This year’s Wimbledon tournament will feature its youngest-ever main draw qualifier: Cori “Coco” Gauff, a 15-year-old tennis phenom from Delray Beach, Florida, who is already on track to become one of the sport’s highest-earning players.
Gauff, who played in her first pro event last year, earned a spot in this year’s women’s singles tournament after a win earlier this week at the final qualifying round for the event. She will face tennis legend Venus Williams in Wimbledon’s first round.
Williams is a tough draw for Gauff, with seven Grand Slam titles to her name and more career earnings than any other women’s tennis player except her sister, Serena. However, Gauff is set for a sizable payday regardless of the match’s result, as Wimbledon’s first-round losers will earn £45,000, or roughly $57,000. The tournament's winner will earn more than $2 million.
“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. “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.”
At age 15, Gauff has already established herself as one of professional tennis’ most marketable young stars. She will earn at least $1 million from endorsement deals with New Balance, Barilla pasta and tennis racket maker Head, Forbes reported.
For now, Gauff’s appearances at pro events is subject to limits imposed by the Women’s Tennis Association’s age-eligibility rules, which prevents players younger than 18 from assuming a full professional workload.
The 2019 Wimbledon women’s singles tournament begins on July 1 at the All-England Club.