Cori Gauff served up the perfect excuse for playing hooky from school as the 15-year-old American caused one of the biggest shocks in Wimbledon history by dispatching Venus Williams 6-4 6-4 in the first round on Monday.
Williams, 39, is considered Wimbledon royalty as she has been part of the All England Club family for over two decades, having won the singles title five times, including two before Gauff was even born.
But Gauff, the youngest player to qualify for the main draw in the professional era, was in no mood to play a lady-in-waiting as she made a mockery of the 24-year-age difference and 269 ranking spots that separate her from her idol Williams.
Playing a fearless brand of tennis that belied her young age, she bullied Williams into submission.
“I don’t even know how to explain how I feel.
“I definitely had to tell myself to stay calm. I have never played on a court so big,” Gauff, who wiped away a tear as she walked off Court One, said moments after her remarkable win.
” I had to remind myself that the lines on the court are the same size, everything around it might be bigger, but the lines are the same and after every point I was just telling myself to stay calm.
“I never thought this would happen, I am literally living my dream right now, and not many get to say that.
“So, I am just happy that Wimbledon gave me the opportunity just to play and I obviously never thought it would be this far,” added the teenager, who was given a wildcard into the qualifying tournament.
Before the match, Gauff, known as Coco, had told her Instagram followers: “Two of my teachers found out I played tennis after I made the main draw here.”
If her Florida-based teachers needed any proof on exactly what she was up to, they only needed to tune into their TVs to see just why Wimbledon was going Coco-crazy on Monday.
A break in the fifth game of the opening set, which included a delectable lob over the statuesque Williams, was enough to win her the first set.
The nerveless display continued in the second set and she sealed victory on her fourth match point when Williams netted a forehand.
“After the match I told her just thank you for everything she did. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her.
“I was just telling her that she is so inspiring and that I always wanted to tell her that. Even though I met her before, I guess I had the guts to (tell her today).” (Reuters/NAN)