U.S. tennis star and seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams says she's a "big fan" of 15-year old qualifier Cori "Coco" Gauff, claiming the youngster is "on a different level" and "knows what to do" on the court.
The top-ranked Australian had won 15 matches in a row, including the French Open title, but she lost to Alison Riske 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 at Wimbledon on Monday, giving the unseeded American a spot in the quarterfinals of a major tournament for the first time.
Gauff logged 28 unforced errors to Halep's 17.
Gauff was able to save two match points when serving at 5-2, but Halep clinched the victory when Gauff sent a forehand wide in the next game.
Her previous two tussles featured in the top eight, including the shock win over Williams that made Gauff the youngest player to win at Wimbledon since Jennifer Capriati in 1991. I'm not comparing myself with a year ago. But these past two weeks have been incredible. "I'm so excited to see, if I continue to work hard, what other success I can do in the future". She upset Venus Williams in her first round match before beating Magdalena Rybarikova in the second round.
"It was really surprising because you don't really expect this kind of support when you're in another country, not your home country", a tearful Cori said in the wake of her defeat to Simona Halep.
"I would be wrong to step in right now and give her advice".
"I hope they learned about me that I'm a fighter". I learned how to play in front of a big crowd, I learned what it was like to be under pressure. I'm just really happy and happy that people believe in me.
"Definitely, I would say my attitude on the court, continuing to fight for every point, that definitely helped me win the last three matches". Wimbledon was her Grand Slam main draw singles debut.
Gauff, who has been competing while taking school tests, has been humbled and excited by the attention she's getting - including from Beyoncé's mom, Tina Knowles, Jaden Smith and Michelle Obama. "I think she's doing great", she said. She took out the No. 1 player in the world who just won a grass-court tournament. But as always, the real money for Gauff won't come from her prize winnings or the sport's performance bonuses (as lucrative as they may be), but from product endorsements.
"We're surprised it is coming as soon as it is", Coco's parents said of her staggering rise to the upper echelons of the game. "I've not almost gotten or developed my game".