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
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