The World Could use More of CoCo
By Laura Sonday
I’m not going to be the first one nor the last one to write about Coco Gauff’s Wimbledon debut. However, as a young woman and female tennis player (older than Coco Gauff, for sure, but who’s counting), I wanted to write about what her run was like for me.
Poised, gracious, and being watched by the whole world, Coco Gauff took Wimbledon by storm.
I was happy, I was excited, and I was…jealous?
Watching a 15-year-old walk on court and win MULTIPLE rounds at the world’s oldest tennis championship? You could say I became a tad self-conscious about my own tennis game.
Despite my jealousy, I couldn’t help but admire Coco Gauff, both from a personal, and tennis standpoint.
Go ahead, think of your biggest accomplishment at the age of fifteen, I’ll wait.
Here are a few possibilities: getting your driver’s permit, going to a high school dance, or maybe it was the chance to play a few minutes on the varsity team of whatever sport you played?
Yeah, those sound similar to mine, too.
It had nothing to do with playing at an internationally recognized tennis tournament. I went to watch the US Open at the age of 15, that’s about as close as I got.
All jokes aside, she represented women’s athletics and women's tennis better than anyone could have asked her to. It wasn’t a facade, either, that’s her personality.
In one interview, in reply to her Wimbledon exit and the fans that she’s gained, she said “I hope they learned about me, that I’m a fighter and I’ll never give up”.
And that’s the thing about Coco and other female athletes, they never give up.
Take the USWNT, for example, the players speak out internationally about pay inequality after proving themselves time and time again.The most recent proof is the World Cup win.
I found myself tearing up several times when Coco interviewed knowing that she’s going to be a part of the fighters. The fighters that support other women’s athletics and do not stop until it is equal for all.
I grew up watching Serena, Venus, Li Na and Kim Clijsters and I remember their sheer fight for the things they cared about: tennis, family, and equality.
Serena and Kim returned to tennis after having children to share the game they love with the people they love. That is not giving up.
Venus speaking out, asking why her Wimbledon win wasn’t as important as Roger Federer’s in 2006. That is not giving up.
Li Na’s paving of the way for so many Chinese female athletes, is just incredible. That is certainly not giving up.
So now that my favorite players, some retired and some active continue to fight for the game they love, a new generation of athletes will join them.
I have no doubt that Coco Gauff will be added to my list of players that I remember, players that I know made a difference for female athletics, and players that I will look up to (both literally because she’s taller than me and figuratively).