Coco’s gig­gle that says: I’m the No1 Court jester

With mil­lions set to cheer her on, 15-year-old ten­nis sen­sa­tion faces her tough­est test yet

Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Jim Nor­ton

WIM­BLE­DON fans are poised to­day for the lat­est chap­ter in the saga that has cap­tured the hearts of the na­tion.

Fresh from her crowd-pleas­ing hero­ics last week, 15-year-old sen­sa­tion Coco Gauff faces her tough­est test yet.

The US teenager, who beat her idol Venus Wil­liams then fought back from the brink of de­feat to see off Polona Hercog, will play for­mer world No 1 Si­mona Halep for a place in the last eight.

Coco, ranked 313 in the world at the start of Wim­ble­don, is al­ready guar­an­teed prize money of at least £176,000 – tripling her ca­reer earn­ings.

And she has won an army of celebrity fans in­clud­ing for­mer First Lady Michelle Obama and rap star Snoop Dogg. She is set to be a mil­lion­aire at 16, hav­ing signed to Roger Fed­erer’s Team8 agency and with spon­sor­ship deals with sports­wear brands Head and New Bal­ance.

Ex­perts say she has the po­ten­tial to be­come the high­est paid fe­male ath­lete of all time – win­ning Grand Slam tour­na­ments could see her earn £100mil­lion a year.

Coco’s thrilling win against Miss Hercog on Cen­tre Court on Fri­day was watched by 5.2mil­lion view­ers, the high­est BBC au­di­ence for Wim­ble­don this year – and two mil­lion more than tuned in to watch Andy Murray’s re­turn in the mixed dou­bles on Satur­day. It even beat the view­ing fig­ures for last year’s women’s fi­nal.

She does not ap­pear fazed at the prospect of fac­ing Ro­ma­nian Miss Halep, the sev­enth seed, on Court One. ‘I’m just go­ing to ap­proach her like ev­ery other match I have been ap­proach­ing,’ she said. ‘My rou­tine has been work­ing pretty well.’

She said the high­light of her week was not on court but when Mrs Obama tweeted ‘Coco is ter­rific!’ The teenager, who warms up for matches by watch­ing prank videos on YouTube, said: ‘I was su­per excited. She is one of my role mod­els, so it was cool to see she knows I ex­ist.’

It emerged yesterday that Coco’s ma­ter­nal grand­mother Yvonne Odom, 73, who she says in­spires her, was a trail­blazer in the 1960s civil rights move­ment, mak­ing head­lines when she be­came the first black pupil at all-white Seacrest High School in Del­ray Beach, Florida. How­ever, it was also re­ported that her pa­ter­nal grand­mother Dr Deb­o­rah Wright is su­ing Coco’s fa­ther Corey over a bar they in­vested in.

All smiles: Coco Gauff, 15, ar­rives at Wim­ble­don yesterday to prac­tise ahead of her match on No 1 Court to­day

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