Coco Gauff hasn’t had the easiest time dealing with stardom, which she admitted in a self-written article for Behind The Racquet. The 16-year-old said she was depressed for a period of time and lost her love for tennis.
“Throughout my life, I was always the youngest to do things, which added hype that I didn’t want,” she wrote. ”It added this pressure that I needed to do well fast. Once I let that all go, that’s when I started to have the results I wanted.”
“Right before Wimbledon, going back to around 2017/18, I was struggling to figure out if this was really what I wanted,” Gauff continued. “I just found myself not enjoying what I loved. I realized I needed to start playing for myself and not other people. For about a year, I was really depressed. That was the toughest year for me so far.”
Gauff’s name made headlines in July of last year when she made it to the fourth round of Wimbledon, before losing to Simona Halep of Romania.
In January the teen reached the fourth round of the Australian Open, where she beat one of her idols in Venus Williams, which she also did last year at Wimbledon.
But Gauff’s name was buzzing even before those victories and that led to her depressed state. She admitted to even thinking about taking a year off from the game just to “think about life.”
“Choosing not to obviously was the right choice but I was close to not going in that direction. I was just lost,” she wrote in her piece. “I was confused and overthinking if this was what I wanted or what others did. It took many moments sitting, thinking and crying. I came out of it stronger and knowing myself better than ever.”
Gauff also wrote about all of the Black people who come up to her and say she influenced them to take up tennis, something that she says truly amazes her. But that doesn’t mean she wants to be mentioned with Venus and Serena Williams in the same breath.
“For me, one of the biggest things is to continue breaking barriers,” said Gauff. “At the same time, I don’t like being compared to Serena or Venus. First, I am not at their level yet. I always feel like it’s not fair to the Williams sisters to be compared to someone who is just coming up. … I still look at them as my idols. With all their accolades I shouldn’t be put in the same group yet.”
“Of course, I hope to get to where they are, but they are the two women that set the pathway for myself,” she added. “I would never have even thought about joining tennis without them a part of it, since there were very few African Americans in the sport.”
-Atlanta Black Star