Earlier this month Cori Gauff, a fifteen-year-old tennis prodigy from Florida, defeated Tennis superstar Venus Williams in the Wimbledon singles championship. In an interview with the New York Times following her win, Gauff revealed that she prays for each of her opponents before a match.
Following her win against Williams on Monday, July 1, Gauff raised her hands to the sky in gratitude. The fifteen-year-old was not expecting to beat Williams, someone she has looked up to for as long as she can remember.
Gauff, who is the youngest player in this years Wimbledon, found herself in the spotlight both before and after she defeated Williams, with commentators and coaches anticipating the match.
“She’s been an inspiration for many people,” Gauff shared with the New York Times about meeting Williams. “I was just really telling her thank you. I met her before, but I didn’t really have the guts to say anything.”
Thanks for all the surreal messages and fan support! It has been a dream week. Let’s keep it rolling @Wimbledon 🙌🏃🏾♀️👏
— Coco Gauff (@CocoGauff) July 6, 2019
After shaking hands with Williams before their match, Gauff, in an unexpected move, got down on her knees by her chair.
Later, after she defeated Williams, the New York Times asked her what she was doing, to which she unashamedly shared that she was praying.
As it turns out, this is a pre-match ritual that Gauff has been doing since she was a child.
“Before every match, since I was 8, my dad and I say a prayer together,” Gauff told NYT. “We don’t really pray about victory, just that me and my opponent stay safe. After the match, I was just thanking God for this opportunity.”
Gauff continued to share with the outlet that her dad has been her champion encourager since she was a child, crediting him with much of her success.
“My dad told me that I could do this when I was 8. Obviously, you never believe it. I’m still not, like 100 percent confident. But … you have to just say things. You never know what happens,” she stated.
“If I went into this match saying, ‘Let me see how many games I can get against her,’ then I most definitely would not have won. My goal was to play my best. My dream was to win. That’s what happened. I think people just kind of limit themselves too much,” Gauff added.
Not only did Gauff defeat one of her idols, but she was the overall youngest player to ever qualify for the Wimbledon main draw. Gauff lost in the second round to 27-year-old Romanian Simona Halep.