Teenager defies all expectation to beat idol and reach second round of Championships
Fifteen-year-old Cori Gauff delivered one of the most stunning shocks seen here at Wimbledon after beating Venus Williams in straight sets to reach the second round of the prestigious Championships.
Having said before the encounter it was her “dream” to face one of the Williams sisters, the American qualifier surpassed all expectations in overcoming a 24-year-age gap to stun her fellow countrywoman 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 19 minutes.
The teenager, who is the youngest woman to qualify for the tournament in the Open era, dazzled with a display of immense maturity and self-belief that belied her 15 years of age.
“Honestly I don’t know how to feel,” Gauff said afterwards. ”It’s the first time I have ever cried after winning a match, I don’t know how to explain how I feel.
“I definitely had to tell myself to stay calm, I had to remind myself that the lines are the same lines, the courts are the same size and after every point I told myself ‘stay calm’.”
Gauff served superbly throughout the clash, was broken only once and showed tremendous composure in her first main draw match at a grand slam, making just eight unforced errors compared to 25 for her 39-year-old opponent.
This was a humbling defeat for Williams, who has been a part of the All England Club landscape for more than two decades, having won the singles title five times – including two before Gauff was even born.
But the American veteran was bullied into submission by Gauff’s fearless approach, which revolved around her stinging serves – which frequently went beyond 110mph – and thumping baseline shots.
A break in the fifth game of the opening set, which included a delectable lob over Williams, was enough to win her the first set.
The nerveless display continued in the second set and she sealed victory on her fourth match point when Williams netted a forehand.
On what idol Williams told her after the match, Gauff said: “She told me congratulations and keep going, she said good luck and I told her thanks for everything she did.
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her – I told her she was so inspiring and I’ve always wanted to tell her that but I’ve never had the guts to before.
“My parent will be super happy, my dad was jumping up every time I won a point, I’m so happy they spent all their time on me and my brothers and making sure we’re successful.
“I never thought this would happen. I’m literally living my dream right now.”
Williams gave little away in her post-match press conference as she discussed the defeat. “She played so well, even all the shanks went in,” she said. “I actually didn’t play well – it was a contrast.
“I just said to her well done and good luck! The sky’s the limit [for her].
“She did everything well today, she was much better. Moves well, serves well, good match.”