coco gauff, wimbledon
Cori "Coco" Gauff of USA takes a drink after practice ahead of Wimbledon at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London on June 30, 2019. Photo credit: James Marsh/BPI/Shutterstock

Cori Gauff, Age 15, Youngest Wimbledon Qualifier, Says Williams Sisters the Reason ‘I Wanted to Pick Up a Tennis Racket’

July 1, 2019 UPDATE: Cori Gauff to Venus Williams After Defeating Her at Wimbledon: ‘I Wouldn’t Be Here Without You’

ORIGINAL STORY

At age 15, Cori Gauff is making Wimbledon history and is set to play against one of her tennis idols, Venus Williams.

After Cori “Coco” Gauff’s 6-1, 6-1 win against Greet Minnen in the final round of qualifying on Thursday, she became the youngest woman to qualify for the main draw at Wimbledon since tennis’ Open Era began in 1968.

The world number 301 tennis prodigy and South Florida resident “made good on her Wimbledon wildcard into qualifying, defeating Aliona Bolsova, Valentyna Ivakhnenko, and Greet Minnen without losing a set,” according to the Women’s Tennis Association.

Gauff was handed a first-round match against Venus Williams when the Wimbledon draw was announced on Friday. Williams, a 39-year-old five-time champion at the All England Club, actually won four of her seven major titles before Gauff was born in 2004.

Gauff and Williams are set to compete on Monday. Wimbledon runs through July 14.

“Many people have been like ‘do you like your draw?’ —  I love my draw,” Gauff told BBC. “Playing one of the greatest players of all time is a dream — I’m excited to see how I do.”

In regard to the age difference, she said: “I don’t think of Venus as old — she’s still killing the game right now.

“It’s crazy to show her longevity – that’s how I look at it. I hope I’m still playing and doing well at 39.”

Gauff has expressed that the Williams sisters inspired her to play the sport.

“Serena Williams has always been an idol and Venus … I mean, they’re the reason I wanted to pick up a tennis racket,” she told Wimbledon media.

“I’ve met them both and they’re both super, kind people. I’m just super happy and thankful that they chose to play tennis ’cause I’m sure they’ll dominate any sport they wanted to play.”

Serena Williams is said to be in the “toughest corner” of this year’s Wimbledon draw, which includes the new No. 1, Ashleigh Barty; Garbiñe Muguruza, Maria Sharapova and Angelique Kerber, who are former No. 1s and Wimbledon champions.

Williams is a seven-time Wimbledon singles champion and winner of 23 Grand Slam singles titles.

Wimbledon will be broadcast live on the Tennis Channel, ESPNESPN+, and ESPN3.

Related Story: Serena Williams Pays Tribute to Althea Gibson After Scoring Wheaties Box

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