AP

Australian Open 2023: Coco Gauff, a teen in a tennis hurry

Jan 12, 2023, 10:15 AM | Updated: Jan 13, 2023, 8:39 pm

FILE - Coco Gauff returns the ball to Sloane Stephens during their quarterfinal match of the French...

FILE - Coco Gauff returns the ball to Sloane Stephens during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Tuesday, May 31, 2022 in Paris. Gauff acknowledges she tends to be in a bit of a hurry as she moves through life. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias, File)

(AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias, File)

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Coco Gauff acknowledges she tends to be in a bit of a hurry as she moves through life.

The 18-year-old Floridian doesn’t stick around in a city after a tennis tournament ends: “Even if it’s a nice place,” she said with a chuckle, “I like to leave.” When dinner’s finished, she’s not one to linger in a restaurant: “I don’t like to sit and talk after I’m done eating,” she said, eliciting more of her own laughter. “I like to go.”

Yes, generally, Gauff is ready to move on. Her philosophy, in a nutshell: Why wait?

“I’m pretty impatient, to be honest. I wouldn’t say I’m impatient with people and things, but when it comes to getting things done, I’d rather do it sooner than later,” Gauff said during an interview with The Associated Press. “I guess that relates to my career; I never realized it until this conversation. But you do want success to happen now.”

When the Australian Open begins the 2023 Grand Slam season Monday morning (Sunday night EST), Gauff will be scheduled to start the action in Rod Laver Arena against Katerina Siniakova. Win that, and Gauff next could face Emma Raducanu, who won the 2021 U.S. Open as a teenager.

Keep going all the way to the semifinals, and the No. 7-seeded Gauff might just end up facing No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who won the 2020 French Open as a teenager and has since tacked on two more major titles. That would be a rematch of their French Open final last June, which Swiatek won.

Gauff is not the only youthful player making strides at the highest levels of her sport.

She is, however, someone who grew up under — and needed to grow accustomed to — an intense spotlight, having made her Grand Slam debut in 2019 by becoming the youngest qualifier in Wimbledon history, then drawing even more attention by beating Venus Williams en route to making it to the fourth round at the All England Club.

“I’ve definitely grown a lot since then. I was 15 and very new. I had a lot of confidence. Still have a lot of confidence. But I feel like I’m more grounded,” Gauff said. “Everything happened so fast, so my head got — I wouldn’t say ‘big,’ because I was always humble and stuff — but I think, in hindsight, it is all happening fast.”

Her greatest growth from then to now, according to her father, Corey: “Her mental maturity.”

Swiatek’s take on Gauff?

“I feel, off court, that she’s really humble. I’m happy about that, because I know that from a young age, kind of all eyes were on her,” Swiatek said. “I’m happy she’s coping with that well.”

Gauff certainly has been, both by improving as a player and by finding her voice and speaking up on issues, whether it is gun violence in the U.S. or the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade or whatever else matters to her.

“She’s wise beyond her years. Obviously, her parents should take a lot of pride in this young lady that they’ve raised, for sure, and deserve a lot of credit for providing that foundation for her. But Coco is, of course, Coco and she’s herself,” WTA CEO and Chairman Steve Simon said. “What I’m excited about is the process that she went through to get there means to me that she’s got a good chance to maintain that level on a long-term basis, versus those that just all of a sudden hit gold.”

On the court, Gauff knows there is work to be done — her forehand is still a shot that opponents tend to test — to keep achieving and to keep taking strides in the right direction.

“As much as I would like to think this might be the best I’ll be, I don’t believe it, ’cause I feel like most of the tennis players, at least on tour now, are peaking in their career around (age) 22 to 26. … I’ve noticed from 15, when I started, to now, I realize, physically, I’m at a much different level than I was at 15. I think I’m just continuing to get stronger,” Gauff said at her pre-tournament news conference Saturday. “There’s a joke that my mom has. She is like, ‘You don’t have that grown woman strength yet. You’ll know when you get it.’ I can’t put a percent on it, but I know the best is yet to come for me.”

As it is, she already has cracked the top 10 in the rankings in singles and got all the way to No. 1 in doubles, qualifying in both events at the 2022 season-ending WTA Finals.

She made it to her first Grand Slam final in Paris. She won her third career singles trophy last week in Auckland, New Zealand.

And now?

“The biggest goal every year,” Gauff said with another laugh, “is to win a Grand Slam.”

___

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

___

AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Australian Open 2023: Coco Gauff, a teen in a tennis hurry