Coco Gauff ready swap ‘teenage phenomenon’ tag for Grand Slam winner label

Coco Gauff speaks to the media Credit: Alamy
Coco Gauff speaks to the media Credit: Alamy

Coco Gauff is ready to take the final step and become a Grand Slam champion, saying it’s something she has “chased her whole life”.

Although she is just 18-years-old, Gauff has plenty of experience behind her as she made her breakthrough at Wimbledon in 2019, becoming the youngest qualifier to reach the main draw at the age of 15 years and three months.

After steady progress the next few years, she got a taste of what is like to play in a major final at Roland Garros last year where she finished runner-up to Iga Swiatek.

Gauff feels she is ready to realise one of her career goals.

“I’m still only 18 but I don’t feel like the new kid any more,” she wrote in her BBC Sport column. “I feel I’m ready to leave behind the tag of ‘teenage phenomenon’. Now it is time to be known as a Grand Slam champion.

“I feel like all the players still call me a baby, and usually I’m still one of the youngest in the draw, but I’ve been around for a while.

“My main ambition for 2023 is winning a Grand Slam title. That’s the biggest goal.

“It is something I have chased for my whole life and I came so close last year by reaching the French Open final. If winning a major doesn’t happen this year, I will continue to chase this dream.”

Gauff won her maiden WTA singles title in 2019 and over the next few years she continued her rise, reaching the quarter-final of the French Open in 2019 and finishing the year inside the top 20.

In 2022 the American took it up another notch as she reached the French Open final and also broke into the top 10 of the singles while she became world No 1 in the doubles. After climbing to a career-high No 4 to qualify for the WTA Finals, she finished the year at No 7.

The teenager added: “Last season was great for me. I broke into the top five of the world rankings in both the singles and doubles, as well as reaching both finals at Roland Garros.

“Even though I lost in the singles to Iga Swiatek, it gave me a lot of confidence in my game and myself.

“I know I can win a Grand Slam title. Now it is about making the final step.

“I just need to fine-tune some details and I worked hard in pre-season to do that. I really think that I had probably one of the best off-seasons I have had.

“It was a lot of hard work, a lot of long days. But I’ve improved my game a lot.

“One of my other goals was to win a WTA Tour title – I didn’t do that last year – and I have already that checked off by winning in Auckland last week.

“The signs are good and hopefully this success continues throughout the season.”

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