Culture / Sporting Life

In Conversation With Tennis Star Coco Gauff, Who Is Making Her WTA Finals Debut in Fort Worth

The Young American Player Talks Preparation, Mental Health, and Visiting Cowtown for the First Time

BY // 10.28.22

For the first time, Texas is hosting the Women’s Tennis Association Finals tournament this fall. From October 31 to November 7 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, the top eight ranked women’s singles and doubles players in the world will compete for part of the total prize pool of $5 million. In anticipation of the event, PaperCity spoke over Zoom with arguably one of the most exciting players in the game right now: 18-year-old American player Coco Gauff, who recently broke into the top five in singles and doubles.

*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

 

On Fort Worth…

Coco Gauff: I’ve never been to Fort Worth before. I’ve only been to Dallas and Austin, so this is my first time. And I’m super excited. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but for sure I’m going to get some nice food over here in Texas — some nice country food. And I got some cowboy boots.

 

On competing in Singles and Doubles…

CG: Personally, I’m a very independent person, I like to be alone. That’s why I chose tennis. I like that aspect of figuring things out on the court and, you know, battling your inner thoughts and yourself. But doubles provides a more relaxed environment. And I honestly think I probably wouldn’t have survived this year if I didn’t play doubles, because it’s just, you know, when you lose the singles match it’s something about coming back out on the court and trying to fight to win doubles.

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Jessica Pegula
Coco Gauff is teaming up with fellow American Jessica Pegula for doubles in the WTA Finals. (Courtesy of WTA)

On teaming up with her doubles partner, Jessica Pegula…

CG: I think she’s just someone that I look up to in a way, the way she acts on the court — very professional, very just chill all the time.

[The duo just became the first pair of U.S. women in the top four of WTA rankings since 2010.]

 

On coping with the spotlight and maintaining her mental health…

CG: I know a lot of people come up to me and try to say, you’re a celebrity or you’re special and you’re this, and I always, say, I’m not. I’m like any other person. My place in the world is just as important as your place in the world. So I don’t view myself as in some sort of spotlight. I think that’s the best way to look at it. I don’t view myself as being on a pedestal. I view myself as everyone else. And I think that’s what makes it easier for me to cope with everything.

 

Her advice for younger players…

CG: Every single day matters when it comes to tennis. Tennis is a matter of details, a matter of inches and centimeters. Matches are won sometimes by inches, or even less, millimeters. As long as you’re bettering yourself every day, whether that’s on the court or off — I find when you’re personally improving yourself, the game will come. Just focus on improving all aspects of yourself, not just tennis.

The WTA Finals take place at Dickies Arena next week. Tickets for individual sessions are available here.

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