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16-year-old Coco Gauff has once again demonstrated wisdom beyond her years. The rising American star posted to Noah Rubin’s “Behind the Racquet” Instagram feed on Tuesday and shared some of her vulnerabilities with the world.

Tennis Express

“I knew that I wanted to play tennis but didn’t know how I wanted to go about it,” Gauff said, mentioning a particularly turbulent emotional time that she went through. “It went so far that I was thinking about possibly taking a year off to just focus on life.”


 


 


“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, 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 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. 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 am after overcoming low points in my life. Now, when I’m on court, I am just really thankful to be out there. Personally for me, I like playing for more than myself. 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. With all their accolades I shouldn’t be put in the same group yet. Of course I hope to get to where they are but they are the two women that set the pathway for myself, which is why I can never be them.” @cocogauff Go to behindtheracquet.com for extended stories, podcast and merch


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The current World No.52, who turned 16 on March 13, has since weathered those tough times and stormed onto the WTA Tour, reaching the second week of two of her first three main draw appearances at the Grand Slam level and winning her maiden career title last autumn in Linz.

The teenager talks about being a part of tennis’ hype machine and dealing with the pressure that comes with the amplified expectations now surrounding her.

“At the same time I don’t like being compared to Serena or Venus,” she wrote. “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. Of course I hope to get to where they are but they are the two women that set the pathway for myself, which is why I can never be them.”

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