Day 1 at Wimbledon: 15-year-old Cori Gauff beats 39-year-old Venus Williams

Day One: The Championships - Wimbledon 2019

At the age of 39 and ranked number 44 in the world, Venus Williams is no longer the centre of attention when it comes to Grand Slams.

And yet, on the first day of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships, Williams was involved in a quite remarkable story.

Near enough 12,345 fans crammed into the No. 1 court to watch the five-time Wimbledon winner reach the second-round on day one of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships.

But they weren’t there for Williams. Not really.

Instead, it was the world number 301 that everyone had come to see - 15-year-old Cori “Coco” Gauff.

Last week, Gauff become the youngest player to qualify for the main Wimbledon draw since the Open era began in 1968 when she came through three qualifying matches without losing a set.

Five days ago, she was sitting a science exam in which she received a grade B.

While her test against Venus was considerably harder, the lessons she learned in her first ever Grand Slam match will benefit her far greater than any science exam.

Previews: The Championships - Wimbledon 2019

At times, it was as if we were watching the Williams sisters do battle.

Gauff played with a maturity far beyond her years - and power that a 15-year-old just shouldn't possess. 

In true British Wimbledon tradition, the majority of the crowd were backing the underdog.

But it soon became clear this wasn't any old plucky underdog.

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Gauff broke Williams' serve at the third attempt of asking and, as she edged towards taking the first set, the crowd started getting excited.

But Gauff didn't. Waiting to serve, the crowd inside Court No.1 took a while to settle down. It didn't faze her. She turned around, jogged on her toes until it quietened down and then served out the set.

Remember when a 19-year-old Roger Federer overcame the legendary Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001? This match had a similar feel.

We were witnessing something special.

Throughout the match, fans could do nothing but shake their heads in disbelief at some of the groundstrokes "Coco" was producing.

Those same fans were shaking their heads in disbelief when at 2-2 in the second set, a double fault from Williams handed another break to Gauff.

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A break of serve each followed before the teenager held her nerve to seal one of the most incredible wins in Wimbledon history.

NO ORDINARY 15-YEAR-OLD

This is no ordinary 15-year-old.

Last year, she won the junior French Open title aged just 14, her agent is part of Roger Federer’s management group and she’s predicted to earn more than $1 million in 2019 thanks to sponsors alone.

Growing up, she idolised the Williams sisters and described her first-round draw against Venus as a “dream”.

“I play tennis because of them," she said.

"They’re great role models for the sport and in general. I’m super excited to play against Venus. I felt like I was going to play one of them. I love the draw. Playing one of the greatest players of all time is a dream.”

Previews: The Championships - Wimbledon 2019

There are so many stats and numbers you can use to demonstrate just how remarkable this match-up really was.

- 24 years age difference
- 257 ranking places between them
- $41.4m  difference in career earnings

Plus the fact Venus had won 10 Grand Slams - and two Wimbledon’s - before Gauff was even born.

Despite those differences, you don’t have to look very hard at all to see the similarities between Gauff and the Williams sisters.

Based in Florida, coached by her dad, trained with Patrick Mouratoglou, her incredible serve and her determination to become the best.

Australian Open 2018 Junior Championships

But seven miles down the road from Buckingham Palace, you can’t help feeling that this match marked the changing of the guard in women’s tennis.

This may well have been Venus’ final Wimbledon appearance. As for "Coco" this is just the start.

“I want to be the best of all time — better than Serena,” she said in the build-up to Wimbledon.

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Ambitious? Yes. But she knows, like everyone that has seen her play, just how good she can become.

WIMBLEDON DAY ONE ROUND-UP

Elsewhere on day one, Novak Djokovic started the defence of his Wimbledon title with a straight-sets wins over German Philip Kohlschreiber.

The world number 57 broke Djokovic’s serve in the very first game on Centre Court at these Championships, before the Serb responded with a 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 victory.

There were also straight set wins for fourth seed, Kevin Anderson and seed number 22, Stan Wawrinka.

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However, there was a massive upset on Court 1 as world number five Alexander Zverev was beaten 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 5-7 by world number 124 Jiri Vesely.

Over on Court 2, world number six Stefanos Tsitsipas also crashed out in a five-set thriller against Italy's Thomas Fabbiano.

There was another shock in the ladies’ draw as seed number two, Naomi Osaka, was beaten 6-7, 2-6 by world number 39, Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva.

There were no such problems for third seed Karolina Pliskova, who beat Lin Zhu 6-2, 7-6.

From a British perspective, Heather Watson beat Caty McNally 7-6, 6-2 to cruise into the second round.

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