At just 16 years old, Cori “Coco” Gauff suffered from a bout of depression. She made an appearance at Wimbledon at the young age of 15 and then struggled to deal with the pressure of being a tennis phenom, according to an essay she wrote for Behind The Racquet.
Gauff is the youngest tennis player currently ranked in the top 100 by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). Her rise to fame and prominence was achieved when she beat five-time Wimbledon singles champion, Venus Williams, in the opening round of Wimbledon and also bested her again at this year’s Australian Open in January.
“I am getting used to the idea that people view me as a role model. It does add a bit of pressure since I know people are watching every move. For the most part, it is easy because I am always just being myself, not putting up a front, which people seem to be OK with. I don’t feel like I have to flip a switch or anything. In the beginning, I thought I had to be perfect but I’ve done a lot of soul searching and moved past it. Since doing that I’ve been having much more fun practicing and playing matches,” Gauff writes in the Behind The Racquet article .
She goes on to explain the mindset that led her into a depressed state.
“Right before Wimbledon, going back to around 2017/18, I was struggling to figure out if this was really what I wanted. I always had the results so that wasn’t the issue, 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. Even though I had, it felt like there weren’t many friends there for me. When you are in that dark mindset you don’t look on the bright side of things too often, which is the hardest part. I don’t think it had much to do with tennis, maybe just about juggling it all. I knew that I wanted to play tennis but didn’t know how I wanted to go about it. It went so far that I was thinking about possibly taking a year off to just focus on life.”
She also doesn’t feel it’s fair to be compared to the Williams sisters as she hasn’t accomplished much in her young career.
“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. It just doesn’t feel right yet, I still look at them as my idols. With all their accolades I shouldn’t be put in the same group yet.”
Gauff has a ranking of No. 49 in the world in singles and a ranking of No. 42 in doubles. She won her first WTA singles title at the age of 15 at the 2019 Linz Open, which made her the youngest singles title-holder on the WTA Tour since 2004. She has also won two WTA doubles titles with fellow teenager Caty McNally.