Sweet 15: Teen
Cori Gauff grew up admiring the Williams sisters. Picked up a tennis racket as a little girl because of them. At Wimbledon yesterday, still just 15, Gauff beat one of them.
Gauff, already the youngest competitor to qualify at the All England Club in the professional era, showed the poise and power of a much older, much more experienced player, pulling off a 6-4 6-4 victory in the first round over Venus Williams, who at 39 was the oldest woman in the field.
When it ended, Gauff dropped her racket and put her hands on her head. After a handshake and exchange of words at the net with Williams, Gauff knelt by her sideline chair and tears welled in her eyes. Up in the stands, her father leaped out of his seat.
‘‘Honestly, I don’t really know how to feel. This is the first time I ever cried after a match. Or winning, obviously; I’ve cried after a loss before,’’ said Gauff.
This was her third tour-level match; Williams has played more than 1000. This was Gauff’s first at Wimbledon, where Williams has played more than 100 and won five titles. By the time Gauff was born in 2004, Williams already owned four of her seven grand slam singles trophies.
It was hardly the only upset on opening day. Two-time major champion Naomi Osaka, who was No 1 until a week ago, lost 7-6 (4) 6-2 to Yulia Putinseva, joining two young members of the men’s top 10, No 6 seed Alexander Zverev and No 7 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, on the way out.
There was no such drama for men’s defending champion Novak Djokovic who beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 7-5 6-3.
Gauff came into the week outside the top 300 but was granted a wildcard by the All England Club Cori Gauff said her momentous victory over Venus Williams was the first time she had cried after winning a match. for qualifying. But this was a whole other task: a main-draw match against an idol on No 1 Court, with its seating capacity of more than 12,000.
Gauff showed no signs of the moment or the matchup being too daunting for her. It’s the sort of unusual calm and steady way she has progressed through the vari