What Had Happened Was Trending stories on the intersections of race, sports & culture

Black girl magic at Wimbledon: Teen advances to third round

Coco Gauff is among group of younger black players we’d better watch out for

5:55 PMAnother black woman is taking the tennis world by storm.

Cori “Coco” Gauff, a 15-year-old phenom from Atlanta, isn’t even old enough to technically be considered an adult, but she is competing against and beating today’s tennis stars.

Gauff recently made history by becoming the youngest player to qualify for the main draw of Wimbledon in the professional era. She continued to make history by defeating Venus Williams, the five-time Wimbledon champion and future Hall of Famer, in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, on Monday. She followed that performance with another victory on Wednesday defeating Magdalena Rybarikova, 6-3, 6-3 to advance to the third round.

Gauff will face Polona Hercog of Slovenia on Friday.

Gauff isn’t a stranger to winning. She dominated the junior ranks, reaching the junior US Open final at the age of 13, and she won the junior French Open at 14.

After Monday’s victory, Gauff crouched down at the back of the court. “Honestly, I don’t really know how to feel,” she said. “This was definitely the first time I ever cried after winning a match. I don’t even know how to explain how I feel.

“I had to tell myself to stay calm. I’d never played on a court so big. I had to remind myself that the lines are the same size.”

Venus Williams (left) congratulates Cori Gauff (right) after their women’s singles on the first day of the Wimbledon at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 1.

Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

She joins the steadily growing list of successful black women in the sport. Williams, 39, and her sister Serena, 37, set the standard, of course, with a combined total of 30 Grand Slam singles titles. Serena and Venus Williams rank first and second, respectively, in career earnings on the women’s tour.

Sloane Stephens has recently been one of the very successful black women on tour; she defeated Madison Keys in the 2017 US Open final. Keys, who is a black woman, has made a name for herself by reaching at least the quarterfinals of all four Grand Slam tournaments.

Taylor Townsend is another name you might be hearing soon too. Although she has yet to crack the quarterfinal round of a Grand Slam, the 23-year-old has reached the third round of the French Open and is looking to make some noise in her opening-round match at Wimbledon on Tuesday.

Naomi Osaka, the 2018 US Open champion, is becoming a household name as well. Osaka most notably defeated Serena Williams in the final of last year’s US Open and was ranked No. 1 in the world until recently. Seeded No. 2 at Wimbledon, Osaka also lost Monday, falling 7-6 (4), 5-2 to Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.

After defeating a future Hall of Famer at the age of 15, Gauff can add her name to the list of budding black women in the sport.