Coco Gauff’s career is idling along with those of all her locked-down rivals, but her mentor, Patrick Mouratoglou, who has guided Serena Williams to 10 of her 23 grand slams, thinks the American teenager can win a major whenever the tour resumes.
“I can see Coco getting to a final and winning a grand slam,” he says, “and I feel she is not that far away.”
That is a serious – if hardly impartial – vote of confidence in a 16-year-old who has risen from 685 in the world 15 months ago to 52 when the WTA suspended the women’s Tour this month because of coronavirus. Tennis is tentatively scheduled to return in June, although it is more likely to reappear much later than that.
Mouratoglou has worked with Gauff at his academy in the south of France for six years but was as surprised as anyone when it took Simona Halep to stop her in the fourth round at Wimbledon last summer. Gauff was, at 15 years and three months, the youngest in the Open era to reach the main draw. Halep, in the form of her life, went on to crush his main client, Williams, in the final.
The French coach was less shocked when Gauff made another impressive run at the Australian Open in January. She beat Venus Williams for the second time in the first round of a slam, then the defending title-holder, Naomi Osaka, before losing, again in the fourth round, to the tournament’s eventual champion, Sofia Kenin, her 21-year-old friend and compatriot.