- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 9, 2021

After earning her spot on the U.S. team with her quarterfinal run at the French Open, 17-year-old Coco Gauff said she “definitely” plans to compete at the Tokyo Olympics.

Gauff was the final American left in the men’s and women’s singles field at the French Open on Wednesday, and she became the youngest American to reach the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam event since Venus Williams in the 1997 U.S. Open.

But that’s where Gauff’s run at Roland Garros ended, with a 7-6 (6), 6-3 defeat against unseeded Barbora Krejcikova.

Still, the tennis phenom’s run at the Grand Slam secured her place on the U.S. team, and Gauff said she doesn’t have any concerns about going to Japan next month for the Olympics. But she hasn’t “really thought about it yet,” she admitted, shortly after dropping her match against Krejcikova.

“I’m definitely planning on playing the Olympics,” Gauff said. “I’m excited to play.”



Should Gauff compete in the Games, she’ll become the youngest Olympic tennis player since 2000. Before the Olympics were postponed in March 2020, Gauff wasn’t in the picture. But Gauff has made a push for the team over the last year, and she overtook Madison Keys, Alison Riske and Jessica Pegula recently to snag the fourth Olympic place.

Sofia Kenin, Serena Williams and Jennifer Brady had already clinched their Olympic places. While Kenin and Brady have said they plan to compete in Tokyo, Williams said last month she hasn’t made her decision on whether she’ll play or not.

Gauff broke onto the scene at Wimbledon in 2019 as a 15-year-old, winning three qualifying round matches before losing to world No. 3-ranked Simona Halep in the round of 16. Gauff made waves in the 2020 Australian Open, too, when she knocked off Naomi Osaka in the round of 32.

Before Wednesday’s loss, Gauff was on a nine-match winning streak. She ranks No. 25 in the world for singles.

“This has been the most consistent tennis I have played at this level,” Gauff said Monday (via NBC Sports). “Hopefully I can keep that going.”

Both Gauff and Krejcikova were making the first Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance of their career, and Krejcikova, a 25-year-old Czech, battled back from a three-game deficit in the first set. Gauff had an opportunity to seal the first set, with five set points in the opener. She couldn’t put the set away, though, and Krejcikova capitalized.

No. 33-ranked Krejcikova took a 5-0 lead in the second set, although she required six match points to book her place in the semifinal at Roland Garros. Gauff said she was proud of the resilience she showed in the match.

“I never want to give up, Today, I really did fight until the last point. I’m proud that I didn’t give up because I could have easily gave up at 5-0 or 5-1,” Gauff said Wednesday. “Yeah, I think losing these matches are going to pay off in the future. I think if I continue fighting like this, other players, maybe if they do have the lead, will start to get nervous because they know I’m not going to give in.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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