Teenage Dream: Cori Gauff Surges Onto Scene With Wimbledon Upset
Fifteen-year-old Cori "Coco" Gauff gave the sports world a "look at what could be a bright future for American tennis" after she beat Venus Williams yesterday in the first round of Wimbledon, according to Cedric Golden of the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. Nothing is "guaranteed in a sport where the burnout rate is extremely high, but Gauff has the makings of a future champion" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 7/2). ESPN's Jason Fitz noted Gauff’s victory is a “moment for the tennis world to meet another young, sensational player that can become a star” (“Golic & Wingo,” ESPN Radio, 7/2). SI.com's Jon Wertheim wrote Gauff has an "undeniable star quality about her," and seeing a player like Gauff beat one of the Williams sisters "underscores the massive impact they've had on the sport." Yesterday's match "certainly had unmistakeable generational implications" (SI.com, 7/1). The AP's Howard Fendrich noted Gauff is the "youngest competitor to qualify at the All England Club in the professional era," and yesterday was just her "third tour-level match." After the match, Gauff said that she "thanked Venus 'for everything she did.'" Gauff: "I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her." Gauff also "joined the crowd in applauding for Venus as she walked off the court" (AP, 7/1). In N.Y., Christopher Clarey writes it "sounded almost as if Gauff were playing at home for much of the match," as the crowd was "consistently supportive in No. 1 Court even though she was facing Williams, long a sentimental favorite at the All England Club." Gauff said, "My dream was to win. That’s what happened. I think people just kind of limit themselves too much" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/2).
BUILDING A BRAND: CBS’ David Begnaud noted Gauff's success at such a young age "has already caught the eye of some major sponsors” ("Evening News," CBS, 7/1). FOOTWEAR NEWS' Samantha McDonald noted New Balance yesterday "posted a congratulatory tweet in honor" of Gauff’s victory. Gauff last year signed a multiyear deal with the company, which also sponsors players Milos Raonic, Danielle Collins and Heather Watson. Gauff's victory yesterday is a "win for New Balance, as it aims to be more compete with heavyweight athletic giants Nike and Adidas in the sport" (FOOTWEARNEWS.com, 7/1). In addition to New Balance, Gauff also has deals with racket maker Head and Italian food company Barilla (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 7/2). Roger Federer's Team 8 management company represents Gauff (TELEGRAPH.co.uk, 7/2).
LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE: ESPN's Chris Evert notes Gauff is among the next wave of young U.S. stars that includes Amanda Anisimova and Sofia Kenin. Evert: "Remember those three names. They're going to have an intense rivalry in the future. ... Don't be worried about the future of women's tennis." ESPN's Patrick McEnroe said of Gauff, "She is coming. ... She is the real deal." Meanwhile, Sloane Stephens said, "The future of American tennis is obviously in good hands, so Maddie (Keys) and I can take a breath" ("Wimbledon," ESPN, 7/2).
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SPECTRUM: World No. 2 Naomi Osaka lost in the first round yesterday, continuing her struggles since claiming the Australian Open title in January. Wertheim on Tennis Channel said, “Fame has its own velocity, and you get the feeling that she’s dealing with a lot right now. Look at her last 12 months. She’s won two majors, there’s been a coaching change, there’s been an apparel change, there’s been this huge burden of responsibility. Some players are better equipped to handle it than others” (“Wimbledon,” Tennis Channel, 7/1). ESPN Radio’s Trey Wingo said Osaka is “already dealing with, ‘I know what the expectations are, the burdens (of being a top ranked player),’ and meanwhile Gauff is out there free and easy. The contrast between those two things really struck me” ("Golic & Wingo,” ESPN Radio, 7/2).