Tennis star Coco Gauff wins the Atlanta Open (VIDEO)

Coco Gauff is the youngest player ranked in the top 100 by the Women’s Tennis Association. She is also now ranked 11th in the world in singles.

While designer Coco Chanel, blues guitarist Coco Montoya, model Coco Rocha and baseball player Coco Crisp are perhaps the most well-known individuals named Coco in their fields, a new Coco has burst onto the scene and could become the most famous of all.

Coco Gauff draws chants from the crowds from the centuries-old lawns of Wimbledon to the scorching courts of the Atlanta Open. It was this taste of Southern hospitality that scored the most points in his recent game.

“I received such a warm welcome and I’m super happy it was sold out both nights. I really felt the love,” she said. “I’m just happy that I got to play in that crowd and play a night session.”

The 18-year-old tennis sensation is no stranger to Atlanta, having grown up there. But playing at the Atlanta Open was something she never dreamed of as a kid.

“I, eight years old, would definitely not think I would come back here as a professional and I guess it’s a looping moment,” Gauff said.

She is the youngest player ranked in the top 100 by the Women’s Tennis Association. She is also now ranked No. 11 in the world in singles and is worth $3.5 million.

Her tennis rise has been faster than Roger Federer’s forehand topspin since beating tennis superstar Venus Williams three years ago at Wimbledon.

His success on the court has allowed him to deposit nearly $5 million in WTA tour revenue into his bank account. Those wins and his growing popularity also secured more than $3 million in endorsements from sportswear maker New Balance and Italian pasta company Barilla.

“A big part of our success is down to the players,” said Atlanta Open tournament director Eddie Gonzalez.

While the teenage sensation’s success has helped sell tickets to events like the Atlanta Open, her parents are trying to stay alert and remind themselves that she’s still young in a world full of seasoned, tried and tested women. .

“Well, I think we’re trying to give him the opportunity to express himself and get off the tennis and understand his feelings,” Gauff’s father, Corey, said. “Her mom also talks a lot about her feelings, how she’s feeling. And, you know, in general, it’s good to have a balance.”

Yet Gauff, like many black athletes before her, chose to use her quick fame to speak out about social issues — from the overthrow of Roe v. Wade to gun violence to the murder of George Floyd. And now she says she wants to inspire other young people to speak up.

“I think it’s very important,” Gauff said. “I think young people are the group that will change the world. And I want to encourage all of my comrades and fellow citizens my age to continue to stand up for what they believe in and no matter how young you are, you can make a difference.”

It’s a lesson his parents instilled in him from an early age.

“One of the things we do as a family is speak your truth,” Gauff’s mother Candi said. “And if that’s the truth and what you feel, then as long as you have enough information and understand both sides – and if that’s what you really believe, then I can’t hold you back.”

With the exhibition win of the Atlanta Open behind her, Coco Gauff is now aiming to take a bite out of the apple – the US Open in New York.

And another city known for action – Las Vegas – likes its chances. She’s listed as the fourth-best bet to place on US Open singles winners, and if Atlanta fans have learned one thing, it’s: don’t bet against Coco.

For now, his road to the US Open continues.

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