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Coco Gauff reveals depression: mulled year off from tennis before breakout

Coco Gauff

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 26: Coco Gauff of the United States serves in her fourth round match against Sofia Kenin of the United States on day seven of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 26, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

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Coco Gauff wrote that she was depressed for about one year in a first-person essay and considered taking a year off from tennis before her rapid rise began last summer.

“Right before Wimbledon, going back to around 2017/18, I was struggling to figure out if this was really what I wanted,” Gauff wrote, according to “I always had the results so that wasn’t the issue, I just found myself not enjoying what I loved. I realized I needed to start playing for myself and not other people. For about a year I was really depressed. That was the toughest year for me so far.”

Last year, Gauff, then 15, became the youngest player to reach Wimbledon’s fourth round since Jennifer Capriati in 1991. She followed that with third- and fourth-round runs at the U.S. Open and the Australian Open, sandwiched between her first WTA Tour title.

Gauff broke into the top 50 before sports were halted due to the coronavirus pandemic. She was fifth in U.S. Olympic tennis qualifying standings in a race for four individual spots, though it’s unknown how the Olympic postponement to 2021 will alter the qualification process.

Before 2019, Gauff was the 2017 U.S. Open junior runner-up and the 2018 French Open junior champion. She wrote that she was always “the youngest to do things, which added hype that I didn’t want.”

“It added this pressure that I needed to do well fast,” she wrote. “Once I let that all go, that when I started to have the results I wanted.”

Gauff also eschewed comparisons to the Williams sisters.

“I always feel like it’s not fair to the Williams sisters to be compared to someone who is just coming up,” she wrote. “It just doesn’t feel right yet, I still look at them as my idols. With all their accolades I shouldn’t be put in the same group yet. Of course I hope to get to where they are but they are the two women that set the pathway for myself, which is why I can never be them.”

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