Fifteen-year-old tennis prodigy Coco Gauff, who defeated Venus Williams this month in the Wimbledon singles championship, revealed that before every match she prays for her opponents.
Gauff raised her hands in gratitude on Monday, July 1 after beating her idol, Williams, in a changing-of-the-guard match. She’s the youngest contestant and has been taking the tennis world by storm with her ability.
Her athleticism, however, is not the only thing that’s drawing people’s attention. Her faith and sincerity also made the news. Before her match with Williams at All England Club, Gauff took a moment to thank Williams, the champion at the time, for everything she has done to pave the way for girls in the sport.
“She’s been an inspiration for many people,” Gauff told The New York Times in an interview following the momentous match. “I was just really telling her thank you. I met her before, but I didn’t really have the guts to say anything.”
After shaking hands with Williams, the teenager knelt down by her chair in tears. When asked by the outlet what she was doing at that moment, she unashamedly said she was praying, a spiritual practice she began with her father every time before heading out on the court.
“Before every match, since I was 8, my dad and I say a prayer together,” Gauff revealed to NYT. “We don’t really pray about victory, just that me and my opponent stay safe. After the match, I was just thanking God for this opportunity.”
The young athlete went on to credit her dad for her impressive debut.
“My dad told me that I could do this when I was 8. Obviously, you never believe it. I’m still not, like 100 percent confident. But ... you have to just say things. You never know what happens,” she stated. “If I went into this match saying, ‘Let me see how many games I can get against her,’ then I most definitely would not have won. My goal was to play my best. My dream was to win. That’s what happened. I think people just kind of limit themselves too much.”
Gauff was the youngest player ever to qualify for the main draw and she managed to beat the five-time champion, Williams. She lost in the next round to Simona Halep.