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Autographs, selfies, practice — Gauff gets used to Wimbledon stardom

Coco Gauff’s exploits at Wimbledon aged 15 has everyone talking she was just getting on with practice © AFP / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS

LONDON, United Kingdom, Jul 4 – Coco Gauff has set Wimbledon alight with her tennis and engaging character, but the 15-year-old has not been short of advice from her peers on the tour.

Gauff, who describes herself as goofy but is very composed both on and off court, has given the sport a shot in the arm with her wins over five-time champion Venus Williams and 2017 semi-finalist Magdalena Rybarikova.

Gauff, coached by her father Corey, was back out practicing on Thursday and seldom has a tennis player ranked 313 in the world had so much attention.

For she was also getting used to her new found fame by taking time to sign autographs and pose for countless selfies.

Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion, said for someone so young — the youngest ever qualifier for the women’s singles — there were many temptations out there which might undermine her tennis.

“I think she’s a kid, and she needs to be a kid,” said the 26-year-old American.

“Like I said, it’s very overwhelming at times.

“A lot of things happen, and tennis becomes secondary.

“I think she’s having obviously the time of her life playing at Wimbledon and Court 1 and beating Venus and all of these things, which is incredible.”

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Seldom has the world ranked 313 player attracted so much attention but Coco Gauff is a case apart as autograph hunters queued up © AFP / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS

Stephens, speaking after she reached the third round with a 6-0, 6-2 win over China’s Wang Yafan, said Gauff’s age had to be taken into account but hopefully she will not be dazzled by all the attention.

“She’s also 15, she’s also a human, and she’s a kid.

“She falls under that age eligibility rule (limited to the amount of tournaments she can play), and that’s a little bit tough.

“There are a lot of factors that go into that, but I think as long as she stays happy and is able to continue to play well, I think she’ll be fine.”

Men’s 2018 semi-finalist John Isner knows both her and her dad and predicts she will be fine.

“She’s so young, and I think most importantly she has a great head on her shoulders,” he said.

“She’s very calm and measured. At least to my naked eye, it seems like that. She’s got a great future.”

World number one Ashleigh Barty, who knows the pitfalls of the sport having taken a time out to play cricket, said Gauff’s composure on court augured well for her future.

“Looks like a big-game player,” said Barty. “Loves the spotlight. Loves the moment.”

Barty, who is bidding to become only the eighth woman to achieve the double of the French Open and Wimbledon titles in the same year, said Gauff had also displayed battling qualities to even reach the main draw.

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“She’s earned her way here,” said Barty.

“She earned her way through qualifying, played some exceptional tennis.

“I think she’s going to have a very, very bright future.”

Chinese 15th seed Wang Qiang says in contrast to Coco Gauff tennis was far from her mind aged 15 © AFP / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS

Gauff’s progress at her age has astonished Chinese 15th seed Wang Qiang.

“When I was 15 years old, I stayed at home and was playing games,” the 27-year-old told AFP.

“I don’t know how she did it. I have no idea!”


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