Coco Gauff feels Iga Swiatek’s rise has ‘taken the pressure off’, but also adds ‘a little extra motivation’

She concedes she “was listening too much to outside noise”, but Coco Gauff is finally starting to feel a bit more at ease and doing things her way.

Gauff made the tennis world sit up and take note of her talent when she became the youngest player to reach the main draw at Wimbledon in 2019 as she was aged 15 years and three months.

After beating tennis great Venus Williams en route to the fourth round at SW19, many tipped her for bigger and better things, and she went on to win her maiden WTA title that year at the Linz Open while she also snapped up the Emilia-Romagna Open last year.

However, many were expecting too much too soon as pundits and fans were talking about winning Grand Slams and becoming world No 1.

Now 18, Gauff admits that the “outside noise” was initially a big distraction.

“I felt like I was listening too much to outside noise,” she told Eurosport.

“People were saying certain things like, ‘Oh she’s going to win all the Grand Slams’, and stuff that’s pretty much close to impossible but in your head you just think that you’re disappointing people, but I think I just have to continue to remind myself that I do this for me and me only and everyone else can enjoy it or not enjoy it.”

The American currently sits a career-high No 15 in the WTA Rankings and she feels some of the pressure has been lifted off her young shoulders following Iga Swiatek climb to the top.

Swiatek won the French Open in 2020, aged 19, while she became world No 1 in April following Ashleigh Barty’s retirement.

“It definitely takes the pressure off,” Gauff said.

“I feel like my age is a big thing that people were talking about but I think for me, we’re all on the court, we’re all going to the same lines, the same balls, the same everything.

“Age, yes, does play a factor a little bit with experience or maybe physically, but Iga being No 1 definitely gives a little extra motivation knowing that she can accomplish it at such a young age in the sport, and maybe you think that you can do it too.”