Following 19-year old Coco Gauff's maiden Grand Slam title run at the 2023 US Open, retired tennis star Maria Sharapova gave some insight into winning a Grand Slam title at a young age, a feat achieved by the Russian at the age of 17.
Gauff became just the 10th teenager in history to win the women’s singles Major at Flushing Meadows when she defeated Aryna Sabalenka. The victory saw her join the likes of Tracy Austin, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, Serena Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Maria Sharapova, Bianca Andreescu and Emma Raducanu, who similarly achieved the feat before turning 20.
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Sharapova believes Gauff followed the right path to her first Major title
In a recent interview with former German player Andrea Petkovic, Sharapova was asked how she handled winning a Grand Slam at such a young age.
"You won your first Grand Slam title when you were very young, even younger than Coco – 17 – and you repeated it – 2006 US Open champion. I was wondering, what is awaiting Coco now? You’ve been in this position. Do you think she can handle it?” asked Petkovic on the Rennae Stubbs Tennis Podcast.
“We’ve seen other past champions that have crumbled under pressure. Can you tell, with your experience, this one’s going to make it, and this one will struggle?"
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Sharapova responded by stating Gauff benefitted from the delay in winning her first Major, as it gave her time to acclimatize to the spotlight.
"Ya. I think her journey has been interesting," replied the Russian. "Because from the age of 16 she’s been the prospect and the target and everyone believed that she would get there.
“And it’s, perhaps I think from everyone’s expectations, it’s taken a little bit longer. But I think for her that may be helpful. Because it took a few years to figure it out as opposed to coming out on top from the very beginning and then just being so surprised by everything that comes your way.”