The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Lindsay Gibbs, July 2, 2019
15-year-old Coco Guaff shocks Venus — Wimbledon roundup — Serena's surprise
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So, Wimbledon is off to a bit of a wild start, as anyone could have expected given the way this season has gone so far. Naomi Osaka is already out, Serena Williams is playing mixed doubles with Andy Murray, and the Group of Death is knocking out champions before the really tough matchups even get going.
But by far, without even a question, the biggest story so far at Wimbledon is Coco (Cori) Guaff.
The 15-year-old, the youngest player to ever qualify for Wimbledon, faced her idol, Venus Williams, in the first round. She soundly beat Venus, 6-4, 6-4.
At the net, Coco told Venus: “Thank you for everything you’ve done. I wouldn’t be here without you.”
There’s been a lot said about the Williams Sisters effect, and yet, I don’t think there’s been nearly enough said about it. Just look at the top of tennis right now: Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, and Naomi Osaka are all competing for (and winning) major titles. And now Coco has arrived. Her father explicitly studied Richard Williams and how he developed Venus and Serena, and modeled Coco’s development accordingly. So many narratives are forced onto players — honestly, a lot of the Sloane/Serena connection, especially early on when there was conflict, was just totally media-driven because they were two black American tennis players — but this is as genuine as it gets.
“The Williams family in general made me realize that it was possible,” Coco’s father, Corey Guaff, told the New York Times. “There wasn’t a lot of color in the sport, and particularly in our country, African-American girls weren’t playing tennis.”
This Week in Tennis
Naomi Osaka is having a tough time, and it makes sense that people are questioning her split with Sascha Bajin. I think she’ll be fine, mainly because the hard court season is next.
Christopher Clarey on Cori Guaff’s big breakthrough.
And here’s Tumaini Carayol’s take over at The Guardian.
I love this look at this year’s Wimbledon kits.
The Chan sisters won big in Eastbourne, and are a delight, as always.
CiCi Bellis talks to the Tennis.com podcast about her agonizing comeback from injury.
Ben Rothenberg looks at Ash Barty’s rise to the top of tennis.
Another good read by Rothenberg, this time on Wimbledon’s long-overdue modernization of how the umpires announce women’s names — marital status is no longer revealed.
Great read on Conchita Martinez’s 1994 Wimbledon championship.
Maria Sharapova’s struggles continue, and she retires one game away from a first-round loss.
Garbine Muguruza is also out early. Tennis.com asks: What is going on with Garbine?
Here’s where you can check out the Wimbledon draw and keep up-to-date.
Tweet of the Week
Five at The IX: Serena Williams
Serena’s intro press conference at Wimbledon was full of fun moments, here are a few of my favorites. (I especially love that she had no idea that Ash Barty was No. 1 — she clearly needs The IX!)
Q. When we last heard from you, you came off the court in Paris and felt you were far away from your best, thinking about getting more matches, taking a wild card. Clearly none of the above. What’s been happening?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah (laughter). I was dealing with some bad injuries all year. I just haven’t had enough match play, quite frankly.
I finally feel like I found some good results in Paris. I stayed there. I saw some good doctors. Yeah, I’m feeling better.
Q. A lot of interest around Venus’ first-round match. What do you make of it as a first-round matchup? What do you expect of Cori Gauff as somebody coming up?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It’s interesting. Because Cori is such an exciting young player. She’s so cool. She’s a great girl. I love her dad. There’s just really cool people.
It’s a great moment for her and for Venus. It’s going to be a big moment for Venus, as well. She’s playing against a player that actually reminds me of Venus, the way kind of her body and everything.
So I know that they both want to win obviously and go to the next round. I think it will be really important for both of them. It will be a good match. I think I might, might watch. I always get nervous watching Venus, so…
Q. Talking of Venus, you played her countless times over the years. What would you say to Andy Murray, who is likely to play his brother for the first time in a Grand Slam in the doubles? What would your advice be to someone playing a sibling?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Don’t look at ’em. Literally look at the ground, don’t look at them at all.
Q. There’s been a bunch of No. 1’s who have had the No. 1 ranking on the women’s side since you were No. 1. Latest is Ash Barty.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Hmm.
Q. You didn’t know?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No.
Q. What do you make of Ash being No. 1?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Wow, that’s great. I think Ash — I don’t know anyone that has anything negative to say about her. She’s like the sweetest, cutest girl on tour. She’s so nice. She has the most beautiful game, such classic shots. I mean, she does everything right. Her technique is, like, flawless.
Q. When you were younger, you didn’t have the easiest time, obviously with Indian Wells. Looking at Gauff, she’s 15, a young black girl coming up, people only talk about the tennis, there’s nothing else. Does that make you, I guess, proud or whatever that things have changed in that way?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. Like I said, she’s such a fantastic young lady. She works very hard. Every time I have work, I see her out there working, training, her and her dad. It reminds me of the time where I was out there with my dad. I can’t help but look inside of myself and be proud and be happy for her.
Yeah, so it’s really nice to see.