Gauff goes on to write that part of her new coping strategy includes “a good circle of friends and family” and becoming “very careful” of who she keeps close. She has also leaned into her newfound status of role model, writing:

Personally for me, I like playing for more than myself. I have girls now coming up to me, of all races but mostly African Americans, saying they are picking up a racquet for the first time because of me. It amazes me since that is how I got into the sport. I remember about a month before Wimbledon going to the club I train at and seeing mostly boys playing. A month after I went back and the majority were girls and the trainer said it was because of me. I could never imagine that one tournament could have that kind of effect. For me, one of the biggest things is to continue breaking barriers.


While Gauff’s rise may clearly echo the barriers broken by those famed Williams sisters, whose mere presence upended the world of tennis while their power transformed the game, the younger player pushes back against comparisons to the two. She may now be training with and competing against the trailblazers (and scoring some hard-earned wins) but Gauff remains humble enough to realize she’s not yet in the same league as her idols—and rightly credits their successes on the court for making her own career possible.

I always feel like it’s not fair to the Williams sisters to be compared to someone who is just coming up. It just doesn’t feel right yet, I still look at them as my idols...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. I feel like I wouldn’t even have the opportunity to be at this level without them. I would never have even thought about joining tennis, without them a part of it, since there were very few African Americans in the sport. For all they did, I shouldn’t yet be compared to them.


Perhaps most importantly, Gauff has begun to reject the perfectionism that so often erodes women’s self-image, even when we are wildly successful. In fact, her new perspective may be saving her growing game, as well as her sanity. “In the beginning, I thought I had to be perfect but I’ve done a lot of soul-searching and moved past it,” she writes. “Since doing that I’ve been having much more fun practicing and playing matches.”

Wise words from one still so young—and relatable insights from an already rising star.


“Everyone asks me how I stay calm on court and I think it’s because I accepted who I am after overcoming low points in my life,” Gauff writes. “Now, when I’m on [the] court, I am just really thankful to be out there.”