August 25, 2019
Teenager’s star quality and self-assurance bode well for her US Open debut but demands of the modern game require careful handling
US Open bow will test Coco Gauff’s confidence amid cautionary tales
A few weeks after Coco Gauff’s scene‑stealing run to the fourth round of Wimbledon, the 15-year‑old made her next move. Gauff was announced as a participant in the Citi Open in Washington DC but the announcement came with a caveat – her ranking was too low and the WTA’s age eligibility rules meant she was unable to receive another wildcard, so her participation in the competition was in doubt. She would head to the capital to host fan activities and to showcase her best at practice sessions. The hope was that enough players would withdraw at the last minute to offer her a spot in the qualifying draw.
Gauff’s prayers were answered and she refused to waste the opportunity. She entered the singles qualifying draw at the 11th hour, where she qualified for the main draw and then won her first WTA event in doubles alongside the 17-year-old Caty McNally. Gauff’s presence brought a record crowd to the tournament’s qualifying rounds and her doubles matches overflowed with frantic spectators as the singles matches on the main courts were empty. In a sport that does not survive without the stars that generate ticket sales and attention, a new one had been born.
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