LONDON: Teenage sensation Coco Gauff says she hopes that one thing her adoring fans at Wimbledon have learned about her in the past week is she is a “fighter” and “never gives up.”
The 15-year-old’s hopes of moving into the quarter-finals were hindered by a stomach complaint in her 6-3, 6-3 loss to Simona Halep in the last 16.
She leaves, though, having turned herself into a media darling, signficantly improved her ranking from 313 and left her mark as a potential Grand Slam winner of the future.
However, even though Gauff, the youngest ever qualifier in the women’s singles, who had then dispensed with three opponents including five-time champion Venus Williams, was more subdued following her defeat she still had a spark.
“I hope they (the crowd and her opponents) learned about me that I’m a fighter,” she said.
“I’ll never give up.”
Gauff, who endearingly described herself on Friday as both “goofy and weird,” said she hoped she had served as an example to many who were dreaming of making it in tennis.
“I hope they learned from me that, I mean, anything is possible if you work hard, just continue to dream big,” she said.
“I mean, like I said, if somebody told me this maybe three weeks ago, I probably wouldn’t believe it.
“But I think just putting in the work definitely raised my confidence because I knew how hard I worked and I knew what shots I could make and what was possible.”
Gauff, who refused to blame playing seven matches in the past fortnight for her loss, said overall it had been an extraordinary ride.
“I’d be like, that’s crazy,” she said.
“I mean, I lost second round of qualifying in Paris.
“Now I made it to the second week. I’m super proud of myself.
“I’m excited to see what I’ll do at US Open and the next couple tournaments coming up.”
Gauff, whose parents father Corey, who first coached her, and mother Candi looked on concerned for her when she had the trainer and the doctor on in the second set, had said last year she would go to college although she hinted the attraction of the professional tennis career also appealed.
This may become something of a debate within the Gauff household.
“Well, I’m going to do it online,” she said.
“I still want to go to college. Kind of like a requirement, I guess, from my parents.
“Obviously I’m still going to be playing professional.
“I’m definitely going to take some online courses.
“I’m still fairly new to high school, so I haven’t figured all that out yet.”
Gauff attracted attention from the unlikeliest sources during her run — Beyonce’s mother, fashion designer Tina Knowles, posted on Instagram and former US First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted about her — and she said her role models on and off court were all women.
“Beyonce, Rihanna, Michelle Obama,” she said.
“It’s many people.
“The list goes on. I mostly look up to the females because, you know… I have a lot of on-court and off-court role models.
“I would say the off-court role models shape my personality a lot, then the on-court role models kind of shape my game.”
Gauff, whose one bone of contention with her parents was they went off to a Beyonce concert in Miami leaving her to babysit earlier this year, said she had been taken aback by some of the people who had posted about her.
“She’s (Michelle Obama) such a role model,” she said.
“I mean, I was really shocked. I wasn’t expecting that.
“That was probably one of the least expected.
“Some of the celebrities that tweeted me I didn’t even know followed tennis.
“They probably don’t follow tennis, but it’s crazy how big this has gotten.”
Gauff, who is going to take time off the constant attention by going on a mini-break with her family, said the support she had received from the crowd had been astonishing.
“I really did feel like I was probably playing in New York somewhere,” she said.