Cori “Coco” Gauff grew up admiring the Williams sisters, picking up a tennis racket as a little girl because of them.
On Monday at Wimbledon, Gauff, still just 15 defeated one of her idols, Venus Williams, in straight sets at Wimbledon.
Gauff, already the youngest competitor ever to qualify at the All England Club in the professional era, showed the poise and power of a much older, much more experienced player.
She pulled off a 6-4, 6-4 victory in the first round over Venus Williams, who at 39 was the oldest woman in the field.
When it ended, Gauff dropped her racket and put her hands on her head. After a handshake and exchange of words at the net with Williams, Gauff knelt by her sideline chair and tears welled in her eyes. Up in the stands, her father leaped out of his seat.
“Honestly, I don’t really know how to feel. This is the first time I ever cried after a match. Or winning, obviously; I’ve cried after a loss before,” said Gauff. “I don’t even know how to explain how I feel.”
This was her third tour-level match; Williams has played more than 1,000. This was Gauff’s first at Wimbledon, where Williams has played more than 100 and won five titles.
By the time Gauff was born in 2004, Williams already had spent time at No. 1 in the ranking and owned four of her seven Grand Slam singles trophies
It was by far the most anticipated match of Day 1 at the grass-court tournament, but hardly the only upset.
Two-time major champion Naomi Osaka, who was No. 1 until a week ago, lost 7-6 (4), 6-2 to Yulia Putinseva, joining two young members of the men’s top-10, No. 6 seed Alexander Zverev and No. 7 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, on the way out.
Gauff came into the week outside the top 300, but was granted a wild card by the All England Club for qualifying.