Celebrities await ‘phenomenal’ 15-year-old Cori Gauff on Centre Court

Sports and TV stars have hailed the Centre Court debut of tennis teenage sensation Cori Gauff at Wimbledon.

The 15-year-old, from Florida in the US, has been the talk of the tournament since she beat her idol Venus Williams, 39, in the first round.

Gauff takes on Solvenian Polona Hercog in the third match scheduled for Centre Court on a hot and sunny day at SW19 on Friday.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Phoebe Waller-Bridge is among the stars in the Royal Box on Centre Court (Steve Paston/PA)

Sitting in the Royal Box is writer and actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who described Gauff, known as Coco, as a “dreamboat”.

“Hopefully we’re going to see Coco, Coco all the way… I think she’s wonderful,” the Fleabag and Killing Eve creator said.

Joining her in the box are ex-Tory leader Lord William Hague and Spice Girls singer Geri Horner.

Alastair Cook
Alastair Cook, back right, was one of several sports stars to hail teenager Cori Gauff (Steve Paston/PA)

Former England cricket captain Alastair Cook, also watching from the Royal Box, said Gauff is “extraordinary”.

Ex-Olympic rowing champion Dame Katherine Grainger described the teenager as “very exciting”.

She added: “Being very much older now, I can look back to those very early days when it’s just pure excitement.

Dame Katherine Grainger
Dame Katherine Grainger hailed the return to SW19 of fellow Scot Sir Andy Murray (Philip Toscano/PA)

“The freedom that she plays with, I’m thrilled to see her do it live.”

Dame Katherine also welcomed Sir Andy Murray’s return to SW19 this year, as he fights back from injury in the doubles competition – where he could end up playing against his brother Jamie.

Retired Irish rugby player Brian O’Driscoll hailed Murray’s return, saying: “It’s brilliant isn’t it? Only he really knows how far he can push it.

“If this is his last hurrah it will be a great place to sign off.”

Brian O'Driscoll
Brian O’Driscoll predicted a bright future for Cori Gauff (Philip Toscano/PA)

O’Driscoll praised the “phenomenal” Gauff for making it to the third round of the women’s singles competition.

“We’re going to hear a lot about her in the next 10 years,” he said.

Hazy cloud hung in the sky over the All England Club as play got under way on Friday, with the temperature expected to reach 28C.

Later in the day, Murray and American grand-slam champion Serena Williams will play together in the mixed doubles competition in a highly anticipated pairing.

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