The teenager has developed a unique bond with Williams, and also often chats with her sister Serena
Coco Gauff says she is proud of her friendship with tennis icon Venus Williams.
The 17-year-old tennis player tells Segun Oduolowu of PEOPLE (The TV Show!) that while she has developed a unique bond with Williams, she also often chats with her sister Serena Williams.
Coco Gauff (L) and Venus Williams react during their women’s first-round match against Siasai Zheng of China and Ellen Perez of Australia during day four of the 2021 French Open at Roland Garros on June 02, 2021, in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
“Definitely on Instagram, [Venus is] always commenting on my stuff, and it’s pretty cool,” Gauff said of their conversations. “She always mentions me on her lives or interviews, and I’m like, ‘This is crazy.’ Every time, I would say I’m pretty ecstatic when she does that because I don’t expect it at all.”
TheGrio previously reported that Gauff is the youngest player ranked in the top 100 by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), listed as world No. 16 in singles. As reported by PEOPLE, last year Gauff and Williams teamed up at the French Open after Gauff’s partner, Caty McNally, withdrew following a knee injury.
“I remember her telling me, ‘You’re the only person that I teamed up with besides Serena in women’s doubles.’ And I was like, ‘That’s an honor,” said Gauff of a chat she had with Williams at the time. “That’s an honor. I didn’t realize she didn’t play with anyone else. I mean, I just didn’t even think about it. And I was like, ‘Wow, that’s pretty cool.’”
She added, “I would say that was probably even more incredible than actually playing her, just because, I mean, I dreamed about playing them, but I never thought that I would play doubles with them. And yeah, that was crazy.”
During a press conference at the French Open, a reporter compared the rising Atlanta, Ga. tennis star to Serena simply because she is Black.
“You are often compared to the Williams sisters. Maybe it’s because you’re Black. But I guess it’s because you’re talented and maybe American too,” said the reporter, per YahooSports.
Gauff responded with grace, saying “…people compare me to them a lot, and I think it’s a compliment, but for me I just focus on being myself because I’m never going to be Serena Williams and Serena will never be me because we are two different people.”
She added, “We have two different brains. I understand why people compare us, but I think it’s just important that I want to be known as Coco. I don’t want to be known as Serena Williams’ heir, or Serena Williams’ next thing. I just want to be known as Coco Gauff.”
Adding, “Most of the time, I’m still younger than most of the opponents I play — or, actually, pretty much everyone I’ve played I’ve been younger than, and way less experienced. But I’ve been the favorite to win, and that’s definitely a transition that I would say that was kind of hard to make: to being the underdog, to then being the favorite.”
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