U.S. teen stuns Venus; Osaka also exits in 1st
LONDON — American 15-yearold Cori Gauff made a big statement of intent for her talent following a 6-4, 6-4 first round win at Wimbledon over seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams in London on Monday.
Gauff became the youngest ever female qualifier at Wimbledon this year, while Williams was the oldest player in the draw at 39 years old.
“I literally got my dream draw,” said Gauff after admitting Williams was one of her idols. “I’m just super happy I was able to pull it out today. I never expected this to happen.”
Williams won four of her seven majors before Gauff was born in 2004, and the 24-year age gap between them is the biggest since a 43-year-old Kimiko Date lost to Belinda Bencic, aged 16, at the 2014 Australian Open.
“She did everything well today,” Williams said in compliment to Gauff. “I think the sky’s the limit for her, it really is.”
The Atlanta-based teen Gauff secured the first break for a 4-2 head start and rallied to the first set in 32 minutes after Williams dumped a return into the net.
In the second set, both players faulted behind their serves to trade breaks and remain even at 44.
Gauff roared after she stretched for a winner at the net and watched the return from Williams sail long to offer her an opportunity to serve for the match at 5-4.
“I knew it was going to be mine,” said Gauff. “I was not
thinking about Venus. I was just playing my game. No matter who I play against, I want to win.”
Three match points went by before Gauff sunk to her knees when Williams wilted with another failed return.
After the waves of courtesy and thank you’s to the Court One crowd, Gauff knelt by her courtside chair and prayed.
“Before every match, since I was eight, my dad and I say a prayer together,” added Gauff. “I was just thanking God for this opportunity.”
Gauff will next meet Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova after she knocked out 10th seed Aryna Sabalenka with a 6-2, 6-4 victory.
There was another shock on day one in the women’s draw as Australian and U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka was stunned 7-6 (74), 6-2 by Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva.
On the men’s side, defending Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic survived some early challenges before prevailing against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber with a 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 victory in the opening defense of his title on Monday.