American tennis player Coco Gauff has said that she struggled with depression after her rapid rise last year on WTA Tour. The 16-year-old became immensely popular after reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2019, which was her first appearance in a Grand Slam.
Gauff followed that up with a run to the round of 16 in this year’s Australian Open as well. These performances helped her become the first 15-year-old in 15 years to break into the top 50 of the world rankings.
“Throughout my life, I was always the youngest to do things, which added hype that I didn’t want,” Gauff wrote in a post for Behind The Racquet. “It added this pressure that I needed to do well fast.
“Right before Wimbledon, going back to around 2017/18, I was struggling to figure out if this was really what I wanted. I always had the results so that wasn’t the issue, I just found myself not enjoying what I loved. I realised I needed to start playing for myself and not other people. For about a year I was really depressed. That was the toughest year for me so far.”
Gauff wrote that she considered taking a year off to gain some perspective and come back refreshed.
“Choosing not to obviously was the right choice but I was close to not going in that direction. I was just lost,” she said. “I was confused and overthinking if this was what I wanted or what others did. It took many moments sitting, thinking and crying. I came out of it stronger and knowing myself better than ever.”
Because of her solid game at such a young age, Gauff is often compared to compatriot Serena Williams. The teenager said she admires the 23-time Major winner and her sister Venus but feels the comparisons are unfair.
“First, I am not at their level yet. I always feel like it’s not fair to the Williams sisters to be compared to someone who is just coming up,” she said. “It just doesn’t feel right yet, I still look at them as my idols.
“Of course I hope to get to where they are but they are the two women that set the pathway for me, which is why I can never be them. I would never have even thought about joining tennis without them a part of it, since there were very few African Americans in the sport.”