The Blackman Voice

The Blackman Voice

The Blackman Voice

Coco Gauff’s Journey to Becoming a US Open Champion


   Most know she beat Aryna Sabalenka at just nineteen years old, but who is Coco Gauff really? 

   The 2023 US Open Women’s Single winner’s real name is Cori Dionne Gauff. She is named after her father, Corey Gauff, but her aunt suggested that they should call her Coco, which was one of her father’s nicknames, to avoid confusion.  

   Coco comes from an athletic family. Her father played basketball at Georgia State University, and her mother, Candi Gauff, was a gymnast. She was also a Division I track and field athlete at Florida State University. Coco has two brothers: Cameron and Codey. Cameron took after their father and plays basketball, but Codey followed Coco’s lead, playing doubles instead of singles. 

   Coco started playing tennis at six, and by ten, she was traveling around the world, learning from the best tennis coaches in the world. Her parents both quit their jobs so she could reach her goals. Her mother, a former teacher, homeschooled her, and her father became her head coach. Her first stop was France, where she worked with Patrick Mouratoglou. Mouratoglou had previously coached Serena Williams, a house-held name in the tennis world who many are now comparing Coco to. 

   But Coco had to work for that title. 

   Coco has had memorable wins in her career, even before the recent US Open win. She beat Venus Williams at Wimbledon at the age of 15 and is a five-time Wimbledon champion.  

   In more recent years, however, she has faced some adversity in her tennis career. She was set to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as the youngest tennis player since 2000, but she ended up having to drop out because she tested positive for COVID-19. Additionally, she had a first-round exit at the 2023 Wimbledon. 

   After the early exit at this year’s Wimbledon, Coco decided it was time to get a new coach. She is now coached by Brad Gilbert who is known for coaching Andy Murray.  

    Coco was recently asked about Gilbert’s coaching and superstitions. She shared that her new coach plays every game with a Jolly Rancher in his mouth. She explained that he offers her them; she takes them, but she does not eat them. She joked that she cannot always have a Jolly Rancher in her mouth and seems to be tired of the candy. 

   She adds that she was worried about working with an older coach. She was unsure of how the 43-year age gap would affect their partnership. 

   “He’s older but he still has the mind of, like, a 20-year-old, maybe even younger, a 10-year-old kid sometimes,” Coco said in a recent interview. 

   But, to her surprise, Gilbert is a child at heart and is the perfect fit for her team. 

   Pere Riba, one of Coco’s assistant coaches, stated “the most important thing is that Coco believes in the work we are doing, that she is improving. Of course, Brad can bring us many things. I see it as really positive, and the connection with his is so good–we are working together really well.” 

   In less than six weeks of the two working together, Coco was named 2023 US Open Women’s Single champion, becoming the youngest American winner since Williams and just the third teenager to win the title, after Tracey Austin (1979) and Williams (1999). Coco is only the 28th woman to have won the singles title. 

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About the Contributor
Abigail Hord
Abigail Hord, Reporter
Abigail Hord is a senior, and this is her first year in journalism. In addition to being a reporter for The Blackman Voice, she is a member of BCA and is Vice President of Science National Honor Society. She enjoys spending time on her family’s farm and is a devoted Tennessee Volunteers and Boston Celtics fan.