TAge, it took #1 for so long to come back this week. Another surprise. With Tunisian world number 2 Ons Jabeur starting Monday, Serena Williams played the doubles competition in the preparatory tournament in Eastbourne. Things went smoothly in two rounds, then the African injured her knee and the duo could not compete in the semi-finals. It’s a pity, especially for the great lady of tennis, who would have benefited from every match in preparation for the most important tennis event in the world.
The tournament begins at Wimbledon on Monday, the sacred grass of tennis ready for the best players in the world. For the women, fans are looking forward to the battle of the generations. On the other hand, Syd Williams, who was able to celebrate seven of her 23 successes at the Grand Slam in London. On the other hand, among others, 18-year-old Coco Gauff, who experts consider the designated heir to the Williams throne – in many ways.
“She is my favorite player among those who are still active. I was really jealous of Oni Jaber because she was allowed to play doubles with her,” said Gauff. When she learned of her idol’s return, she was “shocked”: “I didn’t know anything about her. It wasn’t clear after the injury, at her age. I’m very excited and will watch her when she plays.”
Williams got a wild card
After a good year without a game, Williams only ranked 1204th in the world rankings, but as a Grand Slam winner, she was given a wildcard and now a lot is possible for the first round. You’ll do it with Harmony Tan from France initially.
Gauff celebrated her accomplishments in 2019 at the age of 15 with a thrilling entry to the round of 16 at Wimbledon. It is now on the verge of entering the top ten in the world and is currently in the twelfth position. “But I definitely don’t want to play against Serena in the first round,” she said, laughing. The wish came true: she met Romanian Elena Gabriella Ross.
Meanwhile, Williams is delighted to have her back in Eastbourne, albeit for a while. “It was exciting to play again. I need some matches, so the doubles idea was a good one.” She seems almost surprised to be back on the court. There were phases where you didn’t think of going back. Then the first round at Wimbledon in 2021 against Belarusian Alexandra Sasnovich was the last match of her brilliant career.
“It would be dishonest to say that I have no doubts about coming back. But now my body is feeling great. I didn’t train at first, but I always kept myself semi-fit. I love tennis and I love playing. But things off the field are also fun,” she says.
Hire a Williams coach in Halep
So there seems to be a plan B. But Williams first wants to start, but without her long-time coach Patrick Muratoglu. When Williams had to cancel the French Open in May, Muratoglu hired Simona Halep. Williams was in the final against them at Wimbledon in 2019 – down 2:6, 2:6. Plus, the American has clearly lost weight and looks slimmer than she has been in years. But the punches are still in place as they were in the best of times. One thing is clear: if you want to beat them, you have to chase them from corner to corner. Otherwise it will be difficult.
Is Gauff really ready? She’s strong at figure skating, and her shots are getting better. After a great Wimbledon performance three years ago, she stagnated, struggled on the field, and had to learn how to deal with the crowd and the pressure. Meanwhile, Britain’s 19-year-old Emma Radocano overtook her as the most promising young player when she won the US Open in 2021 as a qualifier.
Incidentally, in 2019, Raducanu was playing her first round match at Wimbledon on a minor court when Gauff went out against Halep in the round of 16. “I thought, ‘There’s someone younger than you playing in the women’s top 16 – and I’m in the junior class,'” said Raducanu. : “It motivated me that it might not take as long to get to the top as I thought.”
Goff’s parents were both athletes
Always alongside Gauff is father Corey, a former college basketball player, and usually also mother Candy, a former track and field athlete. Her father coaches her, and Williams coach Muratoglu has long been at Gauff’s box in major tournaments – the huge talent is a regular at his academy in the south of France. A father once said to his daughter, “You can change the world with your racket.”
This isn’t just about tennis, as Gauff explained recently in Paris when she said “Peace!” After the semi-finals of the French Open. Stop Gun Violence,” he wrote on camera as a salute. In protest of conditions in the USA: “For me when I was 18, it was easier to buy a gun there than to buy beer or champagne.” Before going to the movies, she explains to her siblings, 9 and 14, how they feel they’re acting in a killing spree.
That’s what fascinates Gauff – and so does Williams. Both denounce the problems of society, especially in their homeland. When they talk, you don’t realize that they are 22 years apart. Before big matches, Goff sometimes speaks in phrases such as: “It’s just a tennis match. A lot of people in the world have completely different problems right now.” That was just before the French Open final, she lost to world number one Ija Swiatek of Poland.