“I am so disappointed to share the news that I have tested positive for COVID and won’t be able to play in the Olympic Games in Tokyo,” Cori “Coco” Gauff said in a July 18 statement. The 17-year-old tennis player, who is currently the 25th ranked woman in the world, said that it has “always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this come true in the future. I want to wish TEAM USA [the] best of luck and a safe games for every Olympian and the entire Olympic family.”
— Coco Gauff (@CocoGauff) July 18, 2021
“We were saddened to learn that Coco Gauff has tested positive for COVID-19 and will therefore be unable to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” the United States Tennis Association (USTA) said in a statement, per CNN. “The entire USA Tennis Olympic contingent is heartbroken for Coco. We wish her the best as she deals with this unfortunate situation and hope to see her back on the courts very soon.”
The delayed 2020 Olympics are set to begin on Friday (July 23), but there is growing concern over COVID-19. There have been 55 confirmed cases linked to the Games, including officials and contractors. Three members of South Africa’s Olympic Football (soccer) team tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving at the Tokyo Olympic Village. Team USA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are not requiring athletes to be vaccinated to participate. As Coco recovers, here’s what you should know about her.
Coco Grauff Is A Tennis Player.
Born on March 13, 2004, Cori “Coco” Grauff grew up in Atlanta. She became interested in Tennis at age four after watching Serena Williams win the Australian Open in 2009. She began playing at age six, and at age seven, her family moved to Delray Beach, Florida, where she could have better training opportunities. Coco credits winning the “Little Mo” eight-and-under nationals as when she knew she wanted to be a tennis player when she grew up. “I loved tennis,” she said in 2020, per The Guardian. “I was so-so about it in the beginning because when I was younger I didn’t want to practice at all. I just wanted to play with my friends. When I turned eight, that was when I played ‘Little Mo’ and after that, I decided to do that for the rest of my life.”
She Is Following In Serena’s Footsteps.
In 2017, Coco listed her favorite players in the following order: “Serena, Venus [Williams], Madison Keys, and Sloan Stephens,” she said, per ESPN. Coco met first met Serena at the “Little Mo” tournament in New York and they met again in 2015 during the shooting of a Delta commercial in West Palm Beach. “It was fun, a great experience,” Cori said to ESPN. “She has always been my favorite player. I got to hit some serves to her. I also met her in Nice, France [at the Patrick Mouratoglou training facility].”4
At age ten, Coco began training at France’s Mouratoglou Academy, run by Serena’s longtime coach. The training seemed to pay off. In 2014, she won the USTA Clay Court National 12-under title. At the time, she was 10 years, 3 months old, the youngest champion in history.
Coco Had Her Breakout In 2019…
Coco turned pro in 2018 and made her WTA debut at the Miami Open, per ESPN. She won her first match before losing in the second round. Her big breakout came the following year. After losing in straight sets in the second round of qualifying at the French Open, Coco secured a spot in Wimbledon after her application for a wildcard entry was approved. She surged through qualifying and defeated Venus Williams before ultimately losing in the fourth round to eventual champion, Simona Halep. “I wouldn’t be here without you,” Coco told Venus following her Wimbledon victory. Venus had already had four grand slam wins under her belt before Coco was born in 2004.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 1, 2019
The run resulted in Coco being ranked No. 141 in the world. She continued her success at the 2019 US Open, reaching the third round where she was defeated by the world No. 1 and defending champion, Naomi Osaka.
…And Won Her First WTA Singles Title At Age 15.
After making a splash at Wimbledon and the US Open, it wasn’t long before Coco claimed her first WTA victory. She won the 2019 Linz Open in Austria, defeating Jelena Ostapenko in the finale. She was 15 at the time. She won her second WTA tournament in May 2021, claiming the Emilia-Romagna Open after defeating Wang Qiang in two straight sets.
She Uses Her Platform To Spread A Message.
Coco has used her newfound fame and celebrity to speak out on social justice, particularly the countless number of Black men and women killed by police in America. “Wimbledon has given me an opportunity to raise money and raise awareness for other things and I’m glad that I was able to,” she told The Guardian. “With every match I win, I seem to get more and more people following me, so that’s good. And that means more and more awareness for subjects I care about. I always wanted to not just be a tennis player.”
“Lately, younger people are leading movements and I guess the world has to get used to it because we’re used to older people telling us what to do,” she added. “My generation has just decided it was time to speak up on our own about things. I do follow the [climate] movement a lot and I’m learning about ways we can better change, at least my lifestyle and the way my family live.”