Coco Gauff looks ahead to a return to the scene of her greatest triumphs
Coco Gauff does not know how she will feel next week when she returns to the scene where her career took off two years ago.
The American was the story of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships when she made it to the fourth round as a 15-year-old before being beaten by eventual champion Simona Halep.
She became worldwide news, with celebrities such as Beyonce’s mum Tina Knowles engaging with her on social media and tennis royalty Roger Federer and Serena Williams taking her under their wing.
Her career has continued on the right path since, winning her first WTA Tour title shortly after and comfortably sitting inside the world’s top 25 after her recent run to the French Open quarter-final.
She is back in England, playing at the Wimbledon warm-up tournament in Eastbourne, reflecting on how life changed two years ago.
“Yes, it definitely did,” she said. “Definitely for the better.”
“It does feel so long ago. I won’t say it feels like yesterday. It feels like it was a long time ago – and it was almost two years ago.
“It’s just crazy. I don’t know how I’m going to feel going back for the first time. I know I’ll be happy.
“People might expect me to feel pressure going into it, but I don’t really feel any pressure going into it. I’m just going to have fun and enjoy it.
“I don’t really want to push myself to compare my result this year with last time.
“I want to do better than when I first went there but it was the start of everything. I’m thankful for that experience and it definitely helped me as a player and a person.
“I guess I haven’t actually had any flashbacks regarding Wimbledon yet, so maybe that will happen when I get on the grounds.”
Gauff, now 17, has not played a single match on grass since her SW19 debut after last season’s swing was cancelled due to coronavirus.
She has been practising on hard courts in the south of France ahead of her arrival in Sussex, but is excited to get back to London.
“Wimbledon is definitely the most prestigious out of the grand slams, they have all the rules about wearing the white and only certain people can play on the Centre Court unless you are playing a match there,” she added.
“I thought it was so cool maybe to think about playing an exclusive tournament and the fact that I got to do that so young was really cool.
“And also play on the two biggest courts of the tournament, which many people have yet to play on, that is something I take pride in.”
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