LONDON (Reuters) - Teenager Coco Gauff has captivated Wimbledon with her extraordinary talent and youthful exuberance but, as her beaten opponent said on Tuesday, she is “probably older in her head than the numbers show”.
The 15-year-old American exhibited remarkable maturity and poise to fight back from a set and 5-2 down in her third-round 3-6 7-6(7) 7-5 defeat of Slovenian Polona Hercog.
Afterwards a clearly delighted Gauff, who beat five-times champion Venus Williams in the first round before taking the scalps of former semi-finalist Magdalena Rybarikova and Hercog, switched between reflective adult and excited teenager.
“It’s was pretty surreal how life changes in a matter of seconds,” she said.
“I remember before I played Venus, as you know, when you walk to leave the practice courts, there are people waiting. One little kid asked me for a picture. Then after the next day, after I played Venus, everybody was screaming my name.”
She said it was awe-inspiring to walk out on Centre Court, describing it as “sacred” but she did not feel nervous.
“Obviously this moment is an incredible moment. I’m still excited I get to keep living it,” she said, adding that defeats she had suffered in the past had helped her to achieve success this week.
“You really learn a lot from your loss. You don’t learn too much when you win a lot,” she said.
Gauff recovered from two match points against her on Tuesday to overcome Hercog in a match that lasted two hours 46 minutes and took her into Wimbledon’s second week.
But the teenaged Gauff appeared equally excited about a posting about her by Beyonce’s mother, about a new album by Jaden Smith and about a video of her mother’s celebration in the players’ box on Tuesday going viral.
“Please tell me she’s a meme. I’m so excited to go on Instagram,” she laughed. “I’m going to retweet it and everything.”
And she said it was “cool” to have won some $220,000 so far this week so she would probably buy some hoodies.
“I love wearing hoodies. My mom, she banned me from buying hoodies for two months. Every week I was getting new hoodies sent to the house,” she said.
“I can’t buy a car because I can’t drive.”
(This story corrects prize money for reaching fourth round in para 12)
Reporting by Clare Lovell; editing by Clare Fallon