September 26, 2021

Roland-Garros 2021: call her “Coco” Gauff

In this first week of Roland-Garros, where the exercise of the press conference was found in spite of himself to steal the show from the sportsmen, Cori Gauff – who faces the Chinese Wang Qiang, Thursday, June 3, in the second round – makes lower the temperature a notch in the interview room. If the Japanese Naomi Osaka created the controversy at the start of the fortnight by deciding to free herself from the regulations and boycott journalists, citing her ” Mental Health “ – caught in her own trap of clumsy communication, she finally forfeited before her second round – the 17-year-old American complies with good grace in the media ritual.

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Gauff, who prefers to be called “Coco”, presents herself there zealously, smiling and spontaneous, trained for a long time in this figure imposed by parents who, from the bottle, “programmed” her to win. She certainly benefits from the carelessness of her young age that her still juvenile features betray, but the protégé of Patrick Mouratoglou – she has been training in her academy, in Biot (Alpes-Maritimes), since 2015 – has shown a maturity that strikes all observers.

On the eve of his entry into the running, the No. 24 seed thus professed his way of approaching matches: “I play a lot more liberated than before. Instead of stressing, especially when the score is tight, I try to appreciate the pressure and the present moment. I’ve talked to a few older or retired players, and they all say the same thing: what they regret most is not having enjoyed the moment. I do not intend to reproduce the same thing ”, said Gauff, who delivers answers of a length inversely proportional to those of her compatriot Venus Williams, her senior of twenty-three years, with whom she was eliminated from entry in doubles, Wednesday.

Youngest junior winner since Hingis

This aplomb, the Parisian public had a foretaste of it in 2018, the year when Coco Gauff left with the junior cup at only 14 years and 2 months. The 1.76m right-hander already had a very athletic physique, rather unusual for her age. Porte d’Auteuil, we had not seen such a young winner since Martina Hingis in 1993.

Since being offered her first racket, the American has been collecting precocity records. In 2019, at Wimbledon, she became, at 15 years and 122 days, the youngest player in history to enter the tournament’s main draw, after coming out of qualifying.

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