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Coco Gauff: A Phenom’s Journey to Tennis Stardom

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

By: Marcus Watson

In the world of tennis, a rare phenomenon has been captivating audiences, inspiring young athletes, and redefining the very essence of the sport. Her name is Coco Gauff, and her journey to tennis stardom is nothing short of extraordinary. She is a blend of youthful exuberance, unwavering determination, and a passion for positive change, Coco Gauff has rapidly become one of the most compelling figures in the tennis world and beyond.

Coco's short professional career has been thrilling and she has surpassed many who have done this for their whole lives. Her rise to prominence is nothing short of remarkable, drawing parallels with sports world royalty Serena Williams while being a powerful advocate off the court as a voice for social justice and change. From tennis prodigy to global sensation, Coco Gauff’s story is already long but so far from complete.

Prior to Gauff turning pro she had the chance to train with Patrick Mouratoglou, a former trainer of Serena Williams. Gauff used that opportunity to rack up the accolades, in 2014 she won the USTA Clay Court National 12-under title and in 2017 took home second place at the U.S. Open Girls Junior Championship.

In June of 2019, Gauff received a wild card slot to play at Wimbledon, getting the opportunity to face off against one of her idols in the first round, Venus Williams. With being victorious in that match, only at the age of 15, Coco was able to make it to the 4th round at the tournament, being the youngest to do so since 1991. While also making it to the third round in the U.S. Open later that year. Gauff was able to win her first WTA title in the fall of 2019 which helped her climb the rankings from 685th at the start of the year to 71st by October, Coco ended that year jumping up to 68th.

As the years went on, after a successful start to her career, she followed it up by reaching the 4th round of the Australian Open in 2020 after beating out another young phenom, Naomi Osaka. Then in 2021, she reached the quarterfinals of the French Open, this same year she was able to add a couple of WTA singles to her accolades as well as making a strong run at Wimbledon again, reaching the 4th round.

Coco Gauff, as stated above has had rapid success and has made a strong career for herself since September of 2022 has confidently been ranked in the top 10 of players, but the winning of a major tournament still alluded to her. Her best career finish up to this point was a runner-up at the 2022 French Open. That is until this year’s 2023 U.S. Open.

Coco won her first major title at the 2023 U.S. Open, during the tournament she won seven total matches. She had to go through three players inside the top 20 and claimed an overall victory with a three-set win over Ayana Sabalenaka. Coco's triumph gives her the honor of becoming the youngest American woman to win the tournament since Serena Williams in 1999.

Gauff is one of the fastest-rising stars in sports today, and while she is now the face of the women’s tennis world, she has also expanded her marketability and used her ability to score big-time endorsement deals with brands such as New Balance, Barilla, and Head.

In 2018, New Balance signed Coco to an endorsement deal, and last year that deal was extended making her the only active player in pro women’s tennis with a signature sneaker. And at the 2023 U.S. Open, you would have seen Coco win her first career Grand Slam Title. In celebration of her victory, New Balance brought back her “Call Me Coco” slogan from their original marketing campaign but with a little edit “Call Me Coco Champion” which was rolled out the moment Coco pulled off the win. Following the U.S. Open New Balance reported 145,000 unique visits to the page that had her “Call Me Coco Champion” being sold, as well as a 500% increase in the keyword search for “Coco” in September.

During that U.S. Open victory run Coco was seen outfitted in her infamous all-maroon outfit, as well as her other popular sponsors such as her use of Bose headphones and playing with Head’s rackets. This gives all those brands to share the spotlight at the U.S. Open. While Gauff has grown a list of endorsements, the list has only gotten bigger after her success this past month.

While Gauff is already considered one of the best in the sport she plays, her focus is not only on the court. Gauff has used her status and platforms to speak out on issues such as climate change and racial injustice. At the age of 19, speaking out about things such as these issues can carry a lot of weight, but Coco believes that she is the perfect person to help ignite change where it is necessary.

Gauff also uses her stature to extend to the youth, especially young African-American women. She has discussed in interviews the impact that the Williams sisters have had on her growing up, and Gauff is striving to do the same for kids who follow her.

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