COCO GAUFF says she will remain the same bubbly, humble and humble teenager – even if she becomes Slam champion on Saturday.
Four years after winning the junior title at Roland Garros, the 18-year-old takes on world No. 1 Iga Swiatek on Court Philippe-Chatrier in a bid to lift the senior crown.
A win against all odds at the weekend would make her the youngest women’s major winner since 17-year-old Maria Sharapova shocked Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2004.
There’s also the huge incentive of a winner’s check of £1.9million – although £940,000 as a finalist isn’t too shabby.
Tributes for just getting this far have arrived from tennis icons like Billie Jean King and Michelle Obama, the former First Lady of the United States.
But the mature Gauff insists success won’t go to her head, saying: “If I lift the trophy I honestly don’t think my life will really change.
“I know it sounds kind of bad to say that, but the people who love me will still love me whether I lift the trophy or not.
“Of course, if I do that, it’s probably going to get more attention from people around the world.
“But in that regard, I’m generally not worried about how my life is going to change because I really don’t think that’s going to change.
“There’s more to life than that. You just need to relax when you’re outside. It’s just a tennis match. It’s not the end of the world.
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“There are so many people who go through so many uncomfortable situations.”
Tournament Director Amelie Mauresmo may have claimed that the women’s bouts lack the same “appeal” as the men’s, but this duel promises to be unforgettable.
Swiatek, 21, is expected to triumph – she won the French Open two years ago and is on a 34-game winning streak on the WTA Tour.
In Poland, she has a national status akin to flattery towards Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.
Gauff, No. 18, who is yet to drop a set, said: “Iga is obviously on a streak right now. If I go in I have nothing to lose and on paper she definitely goes into the match as a favourite.
“I’ll just play free and play my best tennis. Anything can happen in a Grand Slam final.
“I have to take the chances I get. She won’t give you many opportunities.”
Gauff, who listens to hardcore rap before hitting the court, is aiming for the doubles this weekend after reaching the women’s doubles final with fellow American Jessica Pegula.
This takes place ahead of Sunday’s men’s final and is further proof that she is a superstar in the making.
Swiatek said: “I’m quite happy that Coco is doing well because I think she’s had a lot of pressure in her life too.
“From what I see on the pitch, she’s basically evolving every year. When I see her, it’s easy to forget that she’s 18. She plays really consistently.
“It seems kind of obvious that the series could be coming to an end soon. I really want to take it step by step.
“I didn’t have any specific goals in this tournament. Just seeing how my game develops in each match gives me a lot of hope. I’m just proud of myself.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5484038/coco-gauff-humble-bubbly-french-open/ Coco Gauff insists she’ll still be the same bubbly, humble and humble 18-year-old