Coco Gauff shares very important lessons 'idol' Venus Williams taught her

After idolizing Williams in her younger days, Gauff went on to become the next big thing in American tennis.

by Dzevad Mesic
Coco Gauff shares very important lessons 'idol' Venus Williams taught her
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Coco Gauff is crediting Venus Williams for learning several very important lessons early as the 19-year-old American reveals her idol taught her about "the importance of humility" and why having off-court hobbies and interests is also a very important thing. 

Although Gauff is set to just turn 20 on Tuesday, she has already been on the WTA Tour for quite some time, having burst onto the big scene during 2019 Wimbledon. 

That year, Gauff - who was 15 years and three months old at the time - became the youngest player in the Open Era to make the main draw at The Championships through a qualifying event. After making a bit of history, Gauff didn't stop there as that year she famously upset five-time Wimbledon champion Williams en route to making the round-of-16. 

Being 15 and already tipped for major success and compared to the Williams sisters definitely had its challenging sides but Gauff successfully navigated through all of that and today she is widely regarded as one of the best players in the world. And Gauff - the 2023 US Open champion and world No. 3 - says Williams took her under her wing and definitely had a very positive influence on her. 

“She taught me the importance of humility. The importance of enjoying life outside of tennis, and also the importance of letting your emotions out on the court," Gauff told Vogue

Coco Gauff and Venus Williams
Coco Gauff and Venus Williams© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

After beating Williams, Gauff also got a chance to play doubles with her idol at the 2021 French Open. Although Gauff and Williams lost in the first round that year, the current world No. 3 learned a very valuable lesson at Roland Garros that year as she still remembers what her idol told her after she smashed her racket.

“And she was like, ‘That’s okay. That’s what you needed to do in that moment,’” Gauff recounted. 

Gauff remembered the Williams sisters shortly after her US Open win

After losing in the 2022 French Open final and having a couple of other promising Grand Slam runs that ended with defeats in the latter stages, Gauff achieved her dream of becoming a Slam champion at the 2023 US Open after beating Aryna Sabalenka in the final. 

In 1999, Serena Williams lifted her first of her 23 Grand Slam titles at the US Open. 24 years later, Gauff - who grew up idolizing Serena - became the first American player since the American tennis icon to win the US Open as a teenager. Also, the fact that Gauff's US Open win came exactly a year after Serena's retirement made her maiden Grand Slam win even better. 

Moments after accomplishing her biggest tennis dream, Gauff delivered a special tribute to her two idols and underlined the importance the Williams sisters had from Day 1 of her tennis journey. 

“Yes, it's crazy. I mean, they're the reason why I have this trophy today, to be honest," Gauff said in her post-US Open final press conference. 

"They have allowed me to believe in this dream, you know, growing up. You know, there wasn't too many just Black tennis players dominating the sport.

"It was literally, at that time when I was younger, it was just them that I can remember. Obviously, more came because of their legacy. So it made the dream more believable. But all the things that they had to go through, they made it easier for someone like me to do this.

"I mean, you look back at the history with Indian Wells, with Serena, all she had to go through, Venus fighting for equal pay. Yeah, it's just, like, it's crazy and it's an honor to be in that kind of lineup as them. And I'm looking at it, and she's won this a lot of times (laughter)."

Coco Gauff and Venus Williams
Coco Gauff and Venus Williams© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Gauff following in the footsteps of the Williams sisters

Ahead of her 20th birthday and amid playing her last tournament as a teenager in Indian Wells, Gauff admits it's a bit weird knowing that she won't be referred to as a teenager anymore. But Gauff - who is already becoming known for her social activism and is not afraid to use her voice when she feels it is needed - is excited about adulthood and hopefully being a spark for a positive change in certain things. 

In that aspect, Gauff is similar to the Williams sisters, who were never focused just on tennis. 

“It’s crazy to think that I’m not going to be a teenager anymore. So much of my career, people have called me the teenaged this, teenaged that," Gauff admitted in Indian Wells. 

“At first, I was scared to grow up. But now I’m embracing adulthood. There’s always going to be change needed in this world. I hope I can play a small part.”

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman

In Indian Wells, Gauff is the third-seeded player and plays Clara Burel in her opener.

Coco Gauff Venus Williams