May 21, 2020
We’re seeing the real Coco Gauff right now because her schedule isn’t dominated by the tennis tour.
And guess what? She’s amazing! And that can only bode well for Wimbledon 2021.
Coco’s Twitter feed over the last month or so gives us great insight into the girl with the world at her feet.
Has international fame gone to her head? Apparently not!
And that’s a credit to Coco and her parents Candi and Corey.
Imagine how hard it must have been to keep her feet on the ground. The entire planet was singing Coco’s praises after she became a household name last year.
The talented teenager became the darling of Wimbledon.
Her courageous wins captured the imagination time and again.
Gauff was aged just fifteen. Suddenly she was more than a Centre Court tennis star. She was a child sensation socking it to the established order.
We’ve seen what that kind of fame can do to new young celebrities.
And as she recently revealed, Coco had felt the pressure of expectation before.
‘I was just lost,’ she explained, adding that she nearly took time out from tennis a couple of years back due to depression.
But when she made so many headlines last summer, Coco seemed to take the adulation in her stride.
So what changed?
Coco clearly listened to advice. And to her own heart. And she came to the right conclusions.
It can be summed up like this: ‘I may be a tennis star now. But I am still a girl. I can still enjoy my childhood.’
That doesn’t mean she ignores her powerful platform. She speaks out on important issues when she feels the need.
But she is not trying to carry the world on her shoulders. She can be playful and very funny too.
All this we have seen in little more than a month.
She posted a picture of herself in zany makeup, showing off broken and neglected nails, beneath the caption:
‘Interviewer: So how have you been without tennis?’
Sure, Coco added ‘peep my nails’ with mock tears. But if you reckon that’s all she thinks about in the coronavirus crisis you couldn’t be more wrong.
A video about a relative was particularly moving. ‘I’m here to talk about my front-line hero, Registered Nurse Kendra Thaddies, and I call her “Auntie Ken.”
‘I just want to say I’m so grateful and very proud of you. I thank you for your service and I hope that you please stay safe, we love you Auntie Ken.’
She accepted the #ALLINCHALLENGE ‘to help raise money for all of the front-line workers and families in need.’
And it wasn’t the prize she offered but the way she offered it that was so impressive.
She offered a one-hour tennis session but added: ‘We can do whatever you want and I’ll even teach you some of my favourite drills and after that we can we can go get lunch…’
If you watch the clip, it just shows a generous girl trying to give something of herself as enthusiastically as she can.
There isn’t a trace of ego.
Coco has now learnt how to be herself. She knows she is still young. And she celebrates being young. Making mistakes. Being imperfect.
‘Just realised I tagged the wrong person! Sorry…In all honesty I don’t know how to use Twitter,’ she confessed amusingly.
Then there was Coco the Fortnite player, hilariously self-effacing.
‘Another shout-out to all the people who played Fortnite with me and carried me because I am trash at this game ha ha, I will definitely do this again. I really enjoyed playing and meeting with you guys.’
When the Pentagon declassified some UFO footage recently, Coco wasn’t scared to voice her opinion.
‘Aliens are real,’ she wrote simply.
Pretty soon she was back for more. ‘I can rant about this for hours bruh. Aliens are real. There’s a whole universe out there with multiple galaxies and you mean to tell me we are the only ones here? Nope. I refuse to believe that.’
Just in case we were in any doubt, she sent out a third tweet. ‘Aliens are real. Aliens are here. OK I am done.’
And who can say the kid with talent from another planet is wrong? But there was a delightful self-awareness about the dogged way she expressed her opinions.
Coco already knows her own mind. And she was rightly outraged by the senseless killing of her fellow Georgian, Ahmaud Arbery – just because he went for a jog.
‘The violence needs to stop. The profiling and racial injustice needs to stop,’ she tweeted.
Well said Coco.
And a look at some of her favourite books tells you this young lady is already a deep thinker. “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas tells of a similar racial crime.
“The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” by Deepak Chopra is just the sort of self-help book Coco can reference during her sporting journey.
And then there’s a best-seller by a certain friend and role model. ‘Becoming Michelle Obama.’
Here’s the great thing about Coco Gauff. She knows she has a voice in this world. But she also knows she’s just a girl.
Coco’s genius is to celebrate both.
When fellow US tennis star Chris Eubanks celebrated his 24th birthday recently, she teased him.
‘You’re getting old bud,’ she wrote.
Only a teenager could say that!
A few days ago, she tweeted this. ‘I flew a kite for the first time today and it was really fun. Just wanted to tell you guys that. OK bye.’
It was almost as though she wanted to say: ‘Hey world, just because I have tennis talent and strong opinions doesn’t mean I’m not still a child. Let my spirit soar!’
We will, Coco, we will.
The more we get to know you while we’re all starved of big-time tennis, the more we like you.
What a welcome you’ll receive at Wimbledon 2021.
Bring your kite too, if you like.