Coco Gauff on her ‘perspective shift’, dreaming of US Open glory and her hopes of playing Serena Williams

Coco Gauff zoned in

Coco Gauff has been tipped to achieve great things from a young age and that was always going to bring added pressure in the early stages of her career, but the teenager feels a weight has been lifted off her shoulders following her run to the French Open final in June.

After becoming the youngest-ever player to qualify for Wimbledon at the age of 15 back in 2019, Gauff has had the attention of the tennis world on her.

And she lived up to the hype as she won her maiden title later that year at Linz Open and the Emilia-Romagna Open trophy followed in 2021 while she also reached the quarter-final of the French Open and was runner-up in the doubles at Roland Garros.

The upwards trajectory has continued this season she made it to her maiden Grand Slam final, finishing runner-up to world No 1 Iga Swiatek at Roland Garros, while she was also a finalist in the doubles.

Earlier in August she also became the world No 1 in women’s doubles after winning the Canadian Open alongside Jessica Pegula.

In a candid interview with ESPN, Gauff admits her outlook changed during this year’s French Open.

“I had a perspective shift in Paris,” she said. “I realised life is so much more than tennis and winning and losing. This life is enjoyable. I don’t want to regret not having as much fun as I could have because I was worried about results.

“My goals are the same. But the mentality behind them is different. I want to enjoy the tough moments.”

Coco Gauff after becoming world No 1 in doubles: ‘Being No 1 is pretty cool. Who wouldn’t want to be No 1?’

The American added: “For a long time, I was stepping onto the court trying to be the next great American whatever, the next Serena [Williams].

“But that’s not why I play tennis. I used to say I wanted to be the greatest because that’s what people wanted to hear. Now I say it because it’s what I want for myself.”

Up next is her home Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows with her best run to date a third-round appearance on her main draw debut in 2019.

Last year she exited in the second round, but Gauff is hoping for bigger and better things in New York.

“It’s my favourite Slam,” she explained. “Playing in front of the home crowd. I hope I can win in front of them,” she said before adding: “That’s the goal, but we’ll see. I know one day I’ll hold the trophy there.”

Gauff has never been shy to say that she looks up to Venus and Serena Williams as they are the main reasons why she is playing tennis.

She played against Venus when she made her Wimbledon bow in 2019, defeating the tennis icon on the first round.

“I always wanted to play them, but I thought they’d be gone before I got on tour. Did I think I could win that match? No. Because Serena, Venus, Serena, Venus. All the time, in my head,” she said.

But time is running out to face 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena as the great is set to retire after the US Open.

“I’m hoping my draw can work out, so we play each other,” Gauff added.