Teen rising star Cori Gauff has vowed to “never give up” after being knocked out of Wimbledon and said she was “surprised” by the level of support she had had from British fans.
The 15-year-old captured hearts after her shock victory over Venus Williams followed by Magdalena Rybarikova and her fightback against Polona Hercog to make it into the last 16.
“It was really surprising because you don’t really expect this kind of support when you’re in another country, not your home country,” a tearful Cori said in the wake of her defeat to Simona Halep.
“I really did feel like I was probably playing in New York somewhere.
“But, yeah, I’m just really happy and happy that people believe in me.”
She added: “I definitely used the crowd a lot.
“Even today, they were definitely giving me extra motivation.
“Sometimes it’s hard. You’re out there alone.
“They kind of make you feel like you have teammates.”
Cori said Serena Williams would always be her idol.
“I still look up to her, even though we’re playing the same tournament,” she said.
“I feel like I’ll always kind of look up to her until we one day face each other on the other side.
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“And win or lose, I’ll still look up to her.”
Outside of tennis, she said she mostly looked up to females, listing Beyonce, Rihanna and Michelle Obama as her role models.
“I have a lot of on-court and off-court role models.
“I would say the off-court role models shape my personality a lot, then the on-court role models kind of shape my game,” she said.
When asked what she hoped her new fans would take from her Wimbledon run, she replied: “I hope they learned about me that I’m a fighter.
“I’ll never give up.
“I hope they learned from me that anything is possible if you work hard, just continue to dream big.”
Wimbledon chief executive Richard Lewis said of Cori “a star is born”.
Describing her surprise success, he said: “It’s good for the sport, it’s good for the event where it happens.
“It’s good for the championships where it happens.
“It’s wonderful to see it happening.
“Some of the stars are getting older and you get new stars.
“It’s just good for the sport in general.”