Changing of guard as teen prodigy slays fading force

Beating Venus Williams in the first round at Wimbledon is only the start for 15-year-old Cori Gauff. The rising US star wants to leave a legacy on the women's game. 

At just 15, the American is the youngest player to qualify at Wimbledon, topping that feat with a phenomenal 6-4 6-4 first-round elimination of former world No 1 Williams.

Having recomposed after post-match tears and prayers, Gauff was asked to outline her ambitions.

She did so with the cold ruthlessness which flavoured her nerveless demolition of her idol Williams.

"I've said this before, I want to be the greatest," she said.

"My dad (Corey) told me that I could do this when I was eight. Obviously you never believe it.

"You never know what happens.

"If I went into this match saying, 'Let's see how many games I can get against her', then I most definitely would not have won.

"My goal was to play my best. My dream was to win. That's what happened.

"I think people just kind of limit themselves too much.

A confdient Cori Gauff says ‘people just kind of limit themselves too much.’
A confdient Cori Gauff says ‘people just kind of limit themselves too much.’

"Once you actually get your goal, then it's like what do you do now.

"I like to shoot really high. So that way I always have many goals along the road, but that way you have the ultimate goal."

Pressed on her updated tournament objective, she said: "My goal is to win it."

Separated by a 24-year age difference and 269 rankings spots, Gauff didn't bat an eyelid against Williams.

She had to remotely complete a science exam on the eve of her final-round qualifying match here and scored a B.

But she gave herself an A for the performance against Williams.

Revealing the last time she cried was while watching End Game - "when Ironman died, I was crying. Every time I think of it, I get teary-eyed' - Gauff was overwhelmed post-match.

"Honestly I don't really know how to feel," she said.

"This was definitely the first time I ever cried after winning a match. I don't even know how to explain how I feel.

"I had to tell myself to stay calm, I'd never played on a court so big. I had to remind myself that the lines are the same size."

Gauff's junior career was outstanding, winning the French title a year ago. The year before, she reached the US junior final at just 13.

Her supreme athleticism is partially genetic.

Her father Corey played basketball at Georgia State University. Her mother Candi, was a gymnast before competing in athletics at Florida State University.

Both were courtside as their daughter dispatched a player long regarded as Wimbledon royalty.

Williams said: "Yeah, she played so well. Even all the shank balls went in. I actually didn't play well. It was a contrast of both sides."

 

Venus Williams has been dumped out of the first round for the first time since 2012.
Venus Williams has been dumped out of the first round for the first time since 2012.

Ranked 301st in the world, Gauff found out she was given a wildcard into qualifying while shopping for a dress for a gala.

Gauff is managed by the Team 8 management company, created by Roger Federer and agent Tony Godsick.