Tokyo Olympics: Gauff headlines United States' women's tennis team

By Sports Desk July 01, 2021

Coco Gauff enjoyed a day to remember on Thursday, as she is set to become the youngest Olympic tennis player since 2000, while the 17-year-old also starred at Wimbledon.

Gauff made her name as a 15-year-old prodigy at Wimbledon in 2019.

Two years on, Gauff returned to Centre Court for the first time since her defeat to eventual champion Simona Halep, and marked the occasion with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Elena Vesnina.

Her Wimbledon campaign is not the only thing Gauff will have on her mind, though, with the teenager having also secured a place in the United States' women's tennis team for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which start later this month.

Gauff will become the youngest tennis player in a Games since Mario Ancic and Jelena Docki, aged 16 and 17 respectively, competed at Sydney 2000, while she will also be the second-youngest American Olympian on the court, after 16-year-old Jennfier Capriati, who took gold in Barcelona 29 years ago.

She is joined by Jennifer Brady, Jessica Pegula and Alison Riske in the singles – which is ranked based on the top four players from each country who have opted in  – with Sofia Kenin, Madison Keys and Serena Williams having declined the opportunity to feature, while Venus Williams, the most decorated Olympic tennis player in history, did not qualify.

Nicole Melichar and 2016 gold medalist Bethanie Mattek-Sands were the doubles-only picks.

As she proved again on Thursday, Gauff – who has two singles titles to her name on the WTA Tour – has little trouble in dealing with the big stage.

She needed just 70 minutes to defeat Vesnina and progress to round three at the All England Club, though she admitted her memories of her 2019 efforts at Wimbledon are not the best.

"It did feel a lot different. I honestly was more nervous coming into today's match," she said.

"I think the biggest thing is I don't really remember much from my Centre Court experience in 2019. I don't know, I felt like it was all a blur.

"But going in today I feel like a completely different player and person. It wasn't my best tennis today, but I think mentally I gave a good performance considering how nervous I was.

"I try not to put expectations on myself, at least only put the ones that I can control, and I know I can control how I act on the court and how I carry myself.

"What I will say is my goal I guess is more clear right now than it was in 2019. I think just my belief is a lot stronger now, the feeling that I can go far."

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