Coco Gauff is Teen Vogue‘s latest cover star, just ahead of the upcoming US Open. In her first-ever cover story, the 15-year-old tennis sensation opens up about her work ethic, how she deals with her new fame, and how much she loves to win.
Playing Wimbledon 2019 as a qualifier, Gauff became the story of the tournament by knocking out idol Venus Williams in the first round and then battling into the fourth round. Media started dubbing her a “prodigy”, but her father Corey has different thoughts, knowing how much work was put into the development of a “phenomenon”:
I understand the Webster’s dictionary [definition] of it, and maybe it’s applicable, but to me, it’s like [Bobby] Fischer in chess. Somebody [who] can see the chessboard. That’s a prodigy to me. They just have a mental capability that’s so unique and so off the charts. When it comes to something like tennis, [Coco] works hard. This is not an accident. She might be overnight popular, but she’s not an overnight success.
Coco’s former coach Jewel Peterson shares the same perspective:
Coco is a coach’s dream. I never had to tell her, ‘Run your laps, do your dynamic.’ I never had to tell her how to start her practice. She did it on her own. To this day, I still have not seen anybody that driven.
The hard work is paying off. The teenager’s career prize money at the moment is $312,300, $298,390 of which she earned this season. The match wins are just a portion of the young American’s income streams: she’s played just one main draw of a Grand Slam and her endorsement deals already include New Balance sportswear, Head racquets, and the pasta company Barilla Group.
The rise in popularity is complicating Coco’s life to an extent. For example, her family car was followed and they had to stop at a police station:
We’ve just kind of been making sure we change our schedule every day so no one, like, I don’t know, figures out what we do. My dad’s crazy, so I think we’ll be OK.
For the future, Coco’s vision and path are simple:
I just want to win more. I love winning more than I hate losing.
Coco’s next opportunity to win matches will come at the August 26th–September 7th US Open, which she plays as a wildcard. It will be her second appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam. (photo credit: Camila Falquez for Teen Vogue)