Coco Gauff, 16, reveals battle with depression and questioned even starting tennis career before Wimbledon breakthrough – The Sun

COCO GAUFF has revealed she suffered depression for a year before her Wimbledon breakthrough.

The 16-year-old stunned the sporting world when she reached the Last 16 last summer as an unknown qualifier, beating icon Venus Williams in the first round.

Yet the American teenager admits she initially found it hard to deal with the mental demands of competing at the highest level – and considered taking a sabbatical.

Gauff said: “Throughout my life, I was always the youngest to do things, which added hype that I didn’t want.

“It added this pressure that I needed to do well fast.

“Once I let that all go, that when I started to have the results I wanted.

“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 realised 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.

For about a year I was really depressed. I knew that I wanted to play tennis but didn’t know how I wanted to go about it.

“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.

“Choosing not to obviously was the right choice but I was close to not going in that direction.

“I was just lost. I was confused and overthinking if this was what I wanted or what others did.

“It took many moments sitting, thinking and crying. I came out of it stronger and knowing myself better than ever.

“Everyone asks me how I stay calm on court and I think it’s because I accepted who I’m after overcoming low points in my life. Now, when I’m on court, I’m just really thankful to be out there.”


Gauff says her stellar displays – which included reaching the Australian Open last 16 in January – have encouraged more black kids to play tennis.

Yet the Florida star doesn’t like comparisons to superstars and pioneers Serena and Venus Williams.

She said: “I’ve girls now coming up to me, of all races but mostly African Americans, saying they are picking up a racket for the first time because of me.

“It amazes me since that is how I got into the sport.

“I remember about a month before Wimbledon going to the club I train at and seeing mostly boys playing.

“A month after I went back and the majority were girls and the trainer said it was because of me. I could never imagine that one tournament could have that kind of effect. For me, one of the biggest things is to continue breaking barriers.

“At the same time 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.”

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