Teenage schoolgirl ‘living my dream’ after beating Venus Williams
A 15-year-old schoolgirl has beaten seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams on the opening day of Wimbledon.
American Cori Gauff is 24 years younger than her defeated opponent, whose record includes five Wimbledon titles.
Gauff is the youngest player to come through qualifying in the tennis Open era, and beat Venus Williams in straight sets 6-4 6-4 on No 1 Court on Monday.
Fans watching from the stands erupted into cheers and applause as the teenager secured her win.
Gauff dropped her racket, held her head in hands and looked tearful as her victory sunk in.
Speaking afterwards she said she “didn’t really know how to feel” after beating one of her tennis idols.
“I never thought this would happen, I’m literally living my dream right now, not many people get to say that,” she said.
Gauff admitted she had to tell herself to “stay calm” after every point, having “never played on a court so big”.
Asked what Williams said to her after the match, Gauff said: “She just told me that congratulations and to keep going and good luck.
“After the match I told her that just thank you for everything that she did, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her and I was just telling her that she’s so inspiring. I always wanted to tell her that.”
Gauff, who is known as Coco, was not even born when Williams claimed her first Wimbledon title in 2000.
She had a world ranking of 301 at the start of this year’s championships, was given a wild card entry for her first Grand Slam tournament.
She was shopping online for a dress for a gala when she heard she would be appearing at Wimbledon.
She had to stay up late to take a science test at 11pm the night before her final-round qualifier.
Gauff is coached by her father Corey, who played basketball at Georgia State University, while her mother Candi was a gymnast before competing in athletics at Florida State University.
Asked how her parents would be feeling, Gauff said: “I know they are super happy, my dad was just jumping up every time I won a point.
“I’m just so happy and blessed that they really just spent all their time on me and my brothers and making sure that we’re successful.”