Earlier this week, Serena Williams announced she will be “evolving away” from tennis after releasing an emotional feature with Vogue.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion has inspired millions during her glittering career, including her fellow WTA Tour peers.
Coco Gauff is one rising star who grew up watching Williams completely change the game for women in tennis.
When the world number 11 was born in 2004, Williams had already won six Grand Slam singles and eight doubles titles. By the time Gauff had made her professional debut in 2018, Williams was a 23-time major champion and an Olympic gold medallist.
Usually, young athletes almost never get to play during the same era as their heroes, but Gauff is hoping for one golden opportunity before Williams hangs up her racquet.
The 19-year-old was asked about her icon’s retirement during a recent press conference at the National Bank Open.
“I’m a little bit sad because I’ve always wanted to play her so I’m hoping my draw at Cincinnati or the US Open, or even here can work out so we can play each other,” she admitted.
Gauff has faced big names during her career so far, including the likes of Naomi Osaka, Ashleigh Barty, and Iga Swiatek. However, a meeting with the queen of the court is yet to come her way.
Despite the difficult decision to close the chapter on tennis, Williams underlined her imminent retirement in the tear-jerking Vogue piece by stating “the countdown has begun.”
However, while Williams has hinted the US Open will be her last tournament, there is no confirmed date for when the 40-year-old will completely step away from the court. Therefore, a match-up between Williams and Gauff could still be on the cards.
Gauff, who has two career titles so far, is pushing for her first ever Grand Slam win. She reached the final of the French Open this year but lost out to world number one Swiatek.
The teenage star admitted it is because of Williams that she even took up a career in tennis in the first place.
“I grew up watching her. I mean, that’s the reason why I play tennis,” Gauff said. “And with tennis being a predominantly white sport, it definitely helped a lot because I saw somebody who looked like me dominating the game and it made me believe that I could dominate too.”