Home Tennis Wimbledon phenom eligible to compete at Citi Open

Wimbledon phenom eligible to compete at Citi Open

Andy Kostka, USA TODAY
Published 9:54 p.m. ET July 18, 2019 | Updated 9:56 p.m. ET July 18, 2019

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Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff opened a lot of eyes when she toppled Venus Williams at Wimbledon, but you shouldn’t be surprised that the 15-year-old is taking tennis by storm.
USA TODAY

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After a remarkable run at Wimbledon that included a first-round win over Venus Williams, 15-year-old Cori “Coco” Gauff is eligible to compete at the Citi Open in late July.

Gauff became the youngest player since 1991 to make the Round of 16 at Wimbledon — where she lost to Simona Halep, who went on to beat Serena Williams in the final. The Citi Open will be Gauff’s first tennis appearance since then. She has some hurdles before she can qualify for the main draw, however.

The Delray Beach, Florida, native must hope for a place to open in the qualifying tournament, which begins July 27 at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center in Washington, D.C. As a 15-year-old, she’s eligible to compete in up to 14 WTA or ITF Pro Circuit events.

Coco Gauff advanced to the fourth round of Wimbledon before losing to eventual champ Simona Halep. (Photo: Susan Mullane, USA TODAY Sports)

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But because she received her maximum three wild-card entries already, she can’t receive more until she turns 16 in March 2020. Instead, Gauff is relying upon higher-ranked players to gain entry into the Citi Open to allow her a place in the qualifying field. Since Wimbledon, Gauff jumped 172 spots to No. 141. She’s entered into the Citi Open as No. 313, though, her rank before her breakout performance in London.

If Gauff makes the field and wins two matches, she’ll find her way into the main draw, which begins July 29.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be in front of American fans in our nation’s capital at the Citi Open,” Gauff said in a release. “The last few weeks have been amazing and I’m excited about coming to Washington, D.C. to connect with all the fans, especially the young kids, who have been giving me so much support this summer. Hopefully I will also have the opportunity to keep this momentum going on the court starting at the Citi Open straight through the U.S. Open.”

Even if Gauff does not play competitively in D.C., she’ll be a presence around Rock Creek Park. She plans to practice at the tennis center and appear at a fan event July 27 if she doesn’t make the qualifying tournament. Also, Gauff will host a kids’ day event and play in a practice match on Stadium Court on July 28.

And Gauff had an impressive resume even before knocking off Venus Williams, Magdalena Rybarikova and Polona Hercog at Wimbledon. She won the Junior French Open in 2018 and was a finalist at the Girls’ U.S. Open in 2017.

“Coco’s story is a perfect fit with the history and mission of our tournament and, as potentially the next great American star, she also embodies our future and our reimagination of this storied tennis event,” Citi Open manager Mark Ein said in a release. “We hope she gets into the qualifying but if not, we will provide our community and her fans a great opportunity to meet her and watch her play and practice as she prepares for the US Open.”

Gauff won’t be the only star name at the Citi Open. Sloane Stephens, Belinda Bencic and Madison Keys highlight the women’s field, while Stefanos Tsitsipas, Kei Nishikori, Kevin Anderson and Karen Khachanov are high-ranking participants the men’s side.

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