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All About Tennis Player Coco Gauff's Inspiring Life On and Off the Court

Here’s everything to know about the 20-year-old tennis phenom ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympics.

By Grace Jidoun
Coco Gauff celebrates match point against Alycia Parks during the 2024 Australian Open

When Coco Gauff, 20, sets her sights on a goal, you can rest assured she’ll work hard to achieve it — and be nice about it, too.

At just 15, she became the youngest tennis player to qualify for Wimbledon and then went on to defeat five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams in her stunning 2019 debut. Coco, whose full name is Cori Dionne Gauff, had sweet words for her childhood idol when they met at the net for the traditional post-game handshake. “I was just telling her thank you for everything she’s done for the sport. She’s been an inspiration for many people," she said, per NPR.

During her whirlwind career, she became the third American teenager to win the U.S. Open women’s title in 2023 — her first Grand Slam victory — joining the ranks of Tracy Austin and Serena Williams. Now, at age 20, she has her eyes on Olympic Gold.

“When it comes to something like tennis, [Coco] works hard,” her father, Corey Gauff, said in a Teen Vogue interview. “This is not an accident. She might be overnight popular, but she’s not an overnight success.”

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Where did this tennis phenom come from? Here’s everything we know about Coco Gauff.

Coco Gauff poses with her trophy with her Parents after the us open

Who are Coco Gauff’s parents?

Her parents, Candi and Corey Gauff, are impressive athletes in their own right. Corey played basketball at Georgia State University, while Candi was on the track and field team at Florida State University; her 1991 heptathlon performance is still considered one of the best scores in the University’s history. After the two tied the knot in 2001, Candi worked as an educator in Atlanta while Corey became a healthcare executive.

Being athletes themselves, the two recognized their daughter’s potential and did something extraordinary: they pressed pause on their careers to focus their efforts on tennis. While Candi homeschooled Coco, Corey eventually transitioned into the role of Coco’s coach, the couple recounted to Teen Vogue.  And the two parents still proudly support and advise their tennis prodigy to this day.

Greatness seems to run in the family; Coco’s grandmother, Yvonne Lee Odom, made a mark on history, too, as the first Black person to attend the all-white Seacrest High School in the South Palm Beach area, per Teen Vogue — just seven years after the Supreme Court desegregated public schools in Brown vs. Board of Education.

Who were Coco Gauff’s coaches through the years?

While Corey is her first and, we’d venture to say, most beloved full-time tennis coach, Coco has been tearing up the courts with a number of pros since her career began at the age of 6. As a young tennis prodigy in the Atlanta area, she trained under the guidance of Jewel Peterson before moving to Delray Beach, where Gerald Loglo took over.

She was even invited to train for weeks at esteemed coach Patrick Mouratoglou's tennis academy in Paris in 2014. "She was only 10-years-old, but you could feel she was already extremely ambitious. When she looks at you and tells you she will be number one you can only believe it," Mouratoglou told the United Press International (UPI).

Then, after losing to Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin at Wimbledon in 2020, the Gauffs hired well-known Spanish coach Pere Riba and brought Serena Williams's ex-hitting partner, Jarmere Jenkins, into the fold.

Coach and TV analyst Brad Gilbert came on board recently with impressive credentials. Gilbert has coached Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick in the past, and he hopes to guide Gauff to gold this summer.

Coco Gauff reacts after match point during the Women's Singles Semifinal match at the us open

Where is Coco Gauff from?

Coco spent the first seven years of her life in Atlanta, where she began playing tennis around the age of six. When Coco was in the second grade, her family — including her two younger brothers, Cody and Cameron — moved to her parents’ hometown of Delray Beach, Florida, known for having some of the best tennis training camps in the world.

Now, the tennis star is giving back to the community with a newly refurbished tennis court at Pompey Park, the same courts she played on every morning with her father.

“I want to pour into the communities that poured into me,” Coco told NBC News in March 2024. “…I want to promote sports and other extracurricular activities in general because I think everybody needs an outlet in their life.” She added, “The more access you allow children to get to these [courts] — and the more children that are playing — is the greater the probability of the next great champion coming along.”

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Coco Gauff was the first player to qualify for the 2024 Summer Olympics

Coco has bragging rights as the first tennis player to mathematically secure a place on Team USA. In Olympic tennis, a nation can qualify up to four singles players per gender. The rankings are based on points earned from June 11, 2023, through June 10, 2024, right after the French Open. Coco has enough points that if she loses every match between now and June 10, she will still head to Paris for the Olympics! While Gauff seemed like a shoo-in for the Olympics, the humble athlete says she’s grateful for a chance to medal in any event.

"One of the goals I wrote down on my vision thing, vision note, in my phone, was to win a medal in the Olympics," she told NBC Sports in January. "I’ll be completely honest, I don’t really care what event it is in. I feel like a gold, silver or bronze, whatever medal it is, is one of those things it doesn’t matter. Well, it does matter. Obviously I want to win in singles. I feel like I would appreciate it just as much, whether it was in singles or doubles. It’s not the same to me as a Slam, I guess, in a way. I just put 'I want a medal at any of the events.'"

What is Coco's life like off the courts?

Coco keeps her personal life close to the vest, but she recently confirmed she is dating someone from Atlanta. In fact, her mother Candi was his fourth grade teacher. "He’s always been a smart, nice kid," Candi told Time.

Otherwise, Coco spends her time off the court with her tight-knit family, which is easy since she still lives at home. And though she's 20, she's in no rush to move out and leave the people she's closest to. 

"I don’t have a timeline on that," she shared with Time. "I always say it’ll happen in my 20s at some point."

For now, America’s top tennis player is focusing on Grand Slam titles and the Summer Olympics, revealing in a recent interview with “CGTN Sports Scene” that she’s not considering marriage or a family at this point. When asked about her life goals, she said, smiling, “Tennis right now, and we’ll see where life takes me off the court.”

To see how Team USA performs at the 2024 Olympics, tune in to Peacock and NBC beginning July 26.

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