July 16, 2024

Coco Gauff has expressed her reluctance to draw parallels between her and tennis icon Serena Williams.

Gauff’s recent performance has seen a remarkable upturn, culminating in her most significant title victory to date at the 2023 Cincinnati Masters. The 19-year-old American clinched the championship with a two-set win over Karolina Muchova, displaying equally impressive form in her semifinal victory over the top-ranked WTA player, Iga Swiatek.

Ultimately, the on-court success has raised Gauff’s profile further among the media and fans, especially as a young African American player. In her post-match press conference, Gauff was asked about her role as an inspirational player to the black community and the teenager said she is remaining grounded for now, but one day hopes to replicate the achievements of former world number one Serena Williams.

“Yeah, it’s something that I don’t take lightly. I think sometimes I guess it increases the pressure because I know that this community of people, the community of people of color, black people, look up to me a lot. Especially with Serena retiring, people consider me the next leader or something of tennis.”

“I don’t put myself in that box because Serena is the G.O.A.T. for a reason. It’s ‘greatest of all time’. That’s what the word means. I’m part of all time, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to go as far as she did. That’s the dream. But also there’s a G.O.A.T. for the reason.”

Williams is often regarded as one of the best-ever tennis players of all time for winning 23 Grand Slam titles during a career that spanned two decades. But she has also earned plaudits for inspiring young female players to take up tennis and also for balancing family life, tennis, and celebrity status.

Gauff would have intense pressure to fulfil the same career trajectory as Williams. Although, the comparisons are not something Gauff is focussing on for now as she just wants to do her best as a tennis player and a celebrity.

“I think for me, it’s just trying my best to be the best version of myself and being the best Coco on and off the court. I think I try to pay attention to how I present myself and the causes that I support off the court.”

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