It’s only been two weeks since she graduated high school!
Coco Gauff has made history as the youngest Grand Slam finalist in nearly two decades, NBC Sports reports.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Gauff was celebrating her high school graduation with family photos in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Now the 18-year-old is preparing to play for the French Open title, becoming the youngest Grand Slam singles finalist since Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004.
This past week, she won against Italian Martina Trevisan 6-3, 6-1, securing her spot at the French Open. Now she is set to play against top-ranked Iga Świątek, who is knee-deep in a 34-match winning streak. Her recent win also makes Gauff the first woman in over 40 years to make it to a major final without facing a top-30 opponent. While it is a big deal for sure, Gauff says she’s planning to treat it like any other match because at the end of the day, it’s just a game.
“I have nothing to lose. [Świątek is] definitely the favorite…I’m a little bit in shock right now. I’m going to be happy regardless [of what happens]. I know my parents are going to love me regardless, so I’m just going to go into it like another match. Yeah, it’s a Grand Slam final, but there’s so many things going on in the world right now, especially in the U.S., a lot of stuff is happening right now, so I think it’s not important to stress over a tennis match,” Gauff told reporters.
She took the time after her previous match to speak about the rampant gun violence in the U.S., which she believes is much more important than anything else right now. Gauff revealed that she had two friends who were impacted by the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. She also signed a video camera “Peace End Gun Violence,” after her last match and spoke about the importance of gun reform, awareness, and voting in an interview.
“We definitely need some reform and some change to go on to control what’s happening in the United States. Now that I’m 18 and of the age to vote, I’ve been really paying attention to what’s going on so that when my time comes I can make the right decision, and I also want to use this moment to encourage people my age to vote locally because those are the people who can really affect your community,” Gauff explained.
While this is the latest in history-making milestones for Gauff, this isn’t the first. Four years ago, at the age of 14, she became the youngest junior Grand Slam champion since Martina Hingis in 1994. In the following year, she won against tennis icon Venus Williams in the first round and became the youngest player to reach the fourth round of a major in more than 20 years. In 2020, she defeated tennis phenom Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open to become the youngest player to get that far in a major singles draw in almost 30 years. And just last year, she made it to the French Open quarterfinals, becoming the youngest player to get that far in a major singles draw in nearly 15 years. Currently, Gauff is No. 13 in the world rankings and if she wins, she’ll be No. 8 in the world and the highest-ranked American tennis player. Still, she is remaining humble, and giving herself time to work her way up through the ranks.
“I’m definitely ready to win one, but I’m not putting pressure on myself to win one. There’s a fine line between believing in yourself and almost pushing yourself too much,” said Gauff.
The 2022 French Open finals are set to take place on June 4.
UPDATE: The 18-year-old was defeated by her opponent in the French Open women’s final 6-1, 6-3 on Saturday. Coco, we’re still so proud of you!
Photo Courtesy of Getty Images