In the battle of the youngest and oldest players in the draw, the 15-year-old sensation Cori Gauff ousted the five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 18 minutes a year ago! Super talented American born in 2004 has been destined for significant results ever since picking the racquet for the first time, competing as the youngest player in almost every draw so far and making a mark on both junior and pro events at such a young age.
At 13, Cori was the US Open junior finalist, winning the crown at Roland Garros a year later after just turning 14! The organizers gave her a wild card for the qualifying draw at Wimbledon and the youngster embraced the chance with both hands, passing three rounds to become the youngest ever qualifier at Wimbledon and set that incredible Venus clash.
With no sign of nerves in the bigger part of the match, Cori outplayed the rival who had four Major crowns before she was born, hitting 18 winners and just eight unforced errors while leaving Venus on a 16-25 ratio, not enough for the positive result.
Gauff converted all three break chances against one of her idols, getting broken once and advancing into the second round as the youngest match-winner in the tennis cathedral since Jennifer Capriati in 1991! Barely making any mistake in the opener, the young gun dropped only four points behind her already booming serve, waiting for a chance on the return and securing a break in game five after two loose backhands from Venus.
Serving for the set at 5-4, Cori landed three winners to secure the opener in an energetic style, looking confident and determined for more of the same in set number two. Venus hit a double fault to suffer a break at love in game five, with Gauff cementing the advantage with a service winner that pushed her 4-2 up and closer to the finish line.
Williams made one last push to break back in game eight and level the score at 4-4 before wasting two game points in the next one, allowing Cori to grab a break after a volley mistake from Venus.
"I think my dad didn't tell me about the wild card until either a couple of hours or a day later," Gauff said. "I was excited and I didn't know what to expect. I feel like Wimbledon is one of those Slams that you can't prepare for because it's so unique and prestigious, so we hopped on a plane, and then next thing I knew, we were in London.
I was going to take the opportunity; I didn't have anything to lose and I played like that. I think that was the perfect moment to play Venus, for my main draw debut. We'd practiced the walk the previous day, but the stadium was empty.
My dad had always kissed me before my matches ever since I was little, and he always says, 'I love you' and have fun.' I didn't want Venus to think that her presence startled me. I knew at that moment that I wasn't going to be intimidating her.
I didn't want to make eye contact with her at the coin toss, so I was looking at the umpire the whole time and shaking off my nerves, but also got to see that I was playing one of the greatest players of all-time across the net.
You can see me just trying to get all the nerves out before we started hitting. Usually, I'm not so nervous at the coin toss, but I was in that situation. You could tell that she's been in this moment a hundred times, that whatever you're doing isn't going to phase her.
I think throughout the warmup, I think I was trying to get used to the environment because it was my first time on a stage so big... but you're not comfortable until you win a game. I didn't want to shank the first ball.
I was feeling good, and it was like, 'I can't believe I'm serving for the first set!' I immediately forgot about the first set because my dad always tells me that the second set is the most important because you either win it to stay in the match or win it to finish the job.
I wanted to finish the encounter and was focused on that... but because of what happened in the first set, I knew I could break how, and it was all about when. I knew that when I had second serves, I had to take advantage of that.
I knew that if I needed to go power-to-power with her, I could, but I knew that was not the way I wanted to play. I had to change up the variation because she's used to the grass and I'm not, and I was going to try to use it to my advantage as best as I could.
I knew that slicing, bringing her in and making her hit balls at uncomfortable heights were going to be the way to make her hit some errors. I felt comfortable with the atmosphere, with the surface and the way I was playing, and I was also pleased with the fact that if it had to go three sets, I would be able to win it.
I didn't even realize how big of a deal that match was until months after it happened. I still don't understand how big of a deal it is, even now, but I remember how I was shaking after the match. I told myself I was going to celebrate until midnight that night, and then that it was a new day and I had to get ready for the next match.
I had more things that I wanted to do and prove to people that this wasn't a one-time situation. I heard these people screaming my name, and that was weird for me. You see these people go viral overnight, whether through sports or a meme, and you never think that you're going to be one of them.
I guess I was one of them; my mom was one of them, too, with her little waving GIF that went viral. It's just crazy how one thing can change someone's life... it was the start of everything, and this is the match that I'll remember for the rest of my life."