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Coco Gauff is no stranger to being the youngest on the court — but after her most recent victory on Monday at the French Open, she’s taken that title to new heights.
The 17-year-old tennis star, who is ranked No. 25 in the world, defeated Ons Jabeur 6-3, 6-1 in only 53 minutes. By doing so, she became the youngest woman to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal since Czech athlete Nicole Vaidisova in 2006. Even more, Gauff is the youngest American player to advance to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam since Venus Williams in 1997, who was also 17 at the time.
Gauff’s age is a remarkable statistic that has always made headlines, especially since her stunning victory over Venus Williams at Wimbledon when she was 15. But to Gauff, her age is nothing but a number.
"I don't really care if you guys talk about my age or not. I'm 17. That's the truth," Gauff told reporters during a post-match conference. "I promise you my opponents don't care about how old I am. They want to beat me just as bad regardless of my age, and I want to beat them just as bad regardless of their age. I'm only going to be 17 once, so you might as well talk about it while I'm 17!"
But Gauff’s age is not any more impressive than her bona fide talent on the clay. Gauff is a keen player, making what she calls “smarter decisions” on the court with each match.
"I'm going to always still be learning no matter how many matches I win," said Gauff. "But for me, it's just being patient.”
Reaching the quarterfinals of Roland Garros is a landmark in her young career, a breakthrough that Gauff has worked diligently towards for most of her life. “When it comes to something like tennis, [Coco] works hard,” Coco’s father, Corey Gauff, told Teen Vogue back in 2019. “This is not an accident. She might be overnight popular, but she’s not an overnight success.”
With Monday’s win, Gauff is now mathematically qualified for the U.S. Olympics tennis team, set to compete in Tokyo later this summer. Although not yet finalized by the International Tennis Federation, the women currently set to represent the United States on the court are Sofia Kenin, Serena Williams, Jennifer Brady, and now Gauff. She would be the youngest Olympic tennis player since 2000.
Speaking to the press after her win, Gauff shared insight on her impressive French Open run thus far. "I think I was just more hungry for it," said Gauff. "I feel like in the past, I felt like I was satisfied with the run I made in the tournament, so maybe I feel like I came into the matches ... I guess, not as hungry. I know it's probably not a good thing to say, but it's the truth. But I think, with a lot of young players, I think we tend to get satisfied with just, you know, the small results — not small results but certain results — before we realize that we can really shoot for more.”
Gauff’s drive at such an early point in her tennis career is awe-inspiring to most, but simply second nature to the athlete. “I just want to win more. I love winning more than I hate losing,” she said to Teen Vogue in 2019.
Gauff’s next opponent at Roland Garros will be Czech player Barbora Krejcikova. "My message has always been 'Dream big and aim higher,’” Gauff told the media. “I think that today was honestly coming from that message of aiming higher."
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Want more from Teen Vogue? Check this out: Cori 'Coco' Gauff on Winning, Fame, and Life Off the Tennis Court
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue