Rising star Cori “Coco” Gauff and her idol, Serena Williams, have each trained at coach Patrick Mouratoglou’s tennis academy in France, an elite facility that accepts students from around the world – so long as they can cover its hefty price of admission.
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Located on the outskirts of Nice, the multimillion-dollar Mouratoglou Tennis Academy features more than 30 tennis courts, a racket-shaped pool, housing, a four-star hotel, spa and sports medicine center, among other luxury amenities. For junior tennis stars from grades 5 through 12, costs exceed $50,000 per year for a tennis performance program, school tuition and housing, not including extra private lessons, yoga classes and mental coaching.
Gauff, the 15-year-old tennis phenom who is set to play in the U.S. Open’s third round on Saturday, began training at the facility when she was just 10 years old. Though Mouratoglou did not train Gauff directly, he said he recognized a “future champion” in the Florida native.
“Everything I believed was necessary to become a champion, I can see at that age already,” Mourataglou told the New York Post. “If I point out the most important things, saw athleticism, the drive, self-confidence — but not cocky — just a belief in herself. Hard worker. Super competitor. You see her in practice, then she goes into the match, it’s a different level. She knows how to win.”
Mourataglou has personally coached Williams, a 23-time major winner, since 2012. Other prominent tennis stars associated with his academy include Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and 2018 junior world champion Jason Tseng.
The academy’s intensive training program for students includes two tennis sessions and one fitness session per day, as well as medical monitoring, tournaments and private lessons.
Dozens of students aged 11-18 train at the Mourataglou Tennis Academy. While not all trainees are destined for pro stardom, many students end up with scholarships to American colleges, Mourataglou told Reuters in 2017.
Gauff’s stint at the academy was only one element of her training. Her father, Corey Gauff, serves as her primary coach, while an academy trainer provides secondary instruction.
The young phenom rocketed to national stardom last June, when she became the youngest-ever player to qualify for the main draw at Wimbledon. She beat Venus Williams, Serena’s older sister and another idol, in straight sets in the tournament’s opening round.
“Serena Williams has always been an idol, and Venus, I mean, they’re the reason I wanted to pick up a tennis racket,” Gauff told reporters at the time. “I met them both, and they’re both super kind people and I’m just super happy and thankful that they chose to play tennis because I’m sure they’d dominate any sport they wanted to play.”