Gauff the ideal new poster girl, says Serena

Gauff the ideal new poster girl, says Serena

US player Cori Gauff eyes the ball during her women's singles first round match against US player Venus Williams on the first day of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 1, 2019. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE

The 15-year-old has become an instant sensation at Wimbledon.

Seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams said it was an honour a poster of her had been on Cori Gauff’s wall and that soon pictures of the new 15-year-old sensation would be adorning other young girls’ walls as a role model for a new generation.

Gauff said the Williams sisters are the reason she took up a racquet although she put her idolisation of them aside when she beat Venus Williams in straight sets on Monday.

Serena, speaking after she had reached the second round with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Italian qualifier Giulia Gatto-Monticone, said it was great there would be a new tennis poster girl for a younger generation.

“Honestly, I feel honoured that I was on her wall at some point in her life,” said Williams.

“Soon she’ll be on other girls’ walls.

“It’s nice, because it will keep it going from the next generation to next generation.”

Williams, who if she wins Wimbledon will share the record with Margaret Court of 24 Grand Slam titles, may be happy about a new idol being on the horizon for a younger generation.

However, she is not ready to walk off centre stage yet.

Indeed although she had a tough battle in the second set — the Italian broke her serve when she served for the match — she welcomed it as she returns after a knee injury that has affected the 37-year-old’s season.

“I haven’t played a ton of matches,” she said.

“I think this is the 13th match for the whole year for me. It felt really good to get there.

“It’s also Wimbledon. It’s Centre Court. It’s like such a big moment for me.

“Like I said, every match counts like several matches to just learn from each point.”

Williams, who will play another qualifier Kaja Juvan of Slovenia in the next round, said she had not felt this good for a while.

“It is the best I have felt since February,” she said.

“I am better now, I feel happy now that I get to play with my baby (Olympia).”

Williams was pressed again over whether she would put Britain’s former world number one Andy Murray out of his misery in searching for a mixed doubles partner.

“If you guys want it,” she said laughing.

“We’re a lot alike on the court,” she said laughing.

“I’ve always liked that about him. Above all, he really stands out, he really speaks up about women’s issues no matter what.

“You can tell he has a really strong woman in his life.”

Williams recently appeared on the cover of a famous American cereal box following in the footsteps of her idol Althea Gibson who was the first black tennis player to be honoured in that fashion.

“Obviously Althea Gibson was somebody I really looked up to,” she said.

“I had an opportunity to speak to her on the phone at one point in my life.

“It’s something I’ll never forget. It was always my goal to follow her as a tennis player on that box.”

She may not be leaving the scene quite yet but Serena still felt in the mood to pinpoint what was the turning point in her extraordinary career — seizing on a Martina Hingis serve in the 1999 US Open final in the tie break that led to her winning the title.

“It was the biggest decision of my career,” she said.

“I just went for it. From that moment forward, I knew I just need to go for it.

“It was a huge breakthough for me.”

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