Wimbledon Upsets: Naomi Osaka Out in 1st Round; Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff Bests Venus Williams

Naomi Osaka challenging a call during her first-round match against Yulia Putintseva at Wimbledon July 1, 2019 in London.
Naomi Osaka challenging a call during her first-round match against Yulia Putintseva at Wimbledon July 1, 2019 in London.
Photo: Shaun Botterill (Getty)

#BlackGirlMagic was on display at Wimbledon Monday, whether in feeling the pain of defeat or in tasting sweet victory, as second-seeded Naomi Osaka got ousted in the first round, while Cori “Coco” Gauff bested tennis legend Venus Williams.

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Osaka, the first player in over 10 years to win her first two Grand Slams back-to-back, loss to Yulia Putintseva, 7-6 (4), 6-2, and was out at Wimbledon, according to the New York Times.

A visibly upset Osaka, after being asked whether it had been difficult getting used to the fame that came her way after consecutive Grand Slam titles, cut her post-game news conference short, saying, “Can I leave? I feel like I’m about to cry,” Reuters reports.

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It was a tough defeat for Osaka, who earlier during the news conference said that part of her success had been in managing to “have fun.”

“The key for me was just, like, having fun, I guess, like learning how to have fun, kind of taking pressure off myself. I hope I can somehow find a way to do that,” she said.

At the other end of the spectrum, Gauff, the youngest at Wimbledon at 15, tasted sweet victory over Williams, one of her idols and the oldest competitor at the tournament at age 39, in a 6-4, 6-4 win.

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After the final call, a visibly awestruck Gauff seemingly couldn’t believe she had bested someone she’s admired since she was a small child.

As ESPN explained:

When it ended, Gauff dropped her racket and put her hands on her head. After a handshake and exchange of words at the net with Williams, Gauff knelt by her sideline chair and tears welled in her eyes. Up in the stands, her father leaped out of his seat.

“Honestly, I don’t really know how to feel. This is the first time I ever cried after a match. Or winning, obviously; I’ve cried after a loss before,” said Gauff, who is based in Florida. “I don’t even know how to explain how I feel.”

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Cori Gauff  celebrates victory after beating Venus Williams at Wimbledon July 1, 2019, in London.
Cori Gauff celebrates victory after beating Venus Williams at Wimbledon July 1, 2019, in London.
Photo: Clive Brunskill (Getty)

Gauff played a phenomenal match, showing, as ESPN reports, maturity and a level of skill well beyond her years:

Gauff was sensational and showed zero signs that the moment or the matchup was too daunting for her. It’s the sort of unusual calm and steady way she has progressed through the various levels of youth tennis, including reaching the U.S. Open junior final at 13 and winning the French Open junior title at 14.

The first set was remarkable: Gauff had 10 winners to only two unforced errors, all the while trading powerful groundstrokes at the baseline with Williams, and never facing a break point.

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A humble Gauff joined the crowd at Wimbledon in applauding Williams as she left the court, telling ESPN:

After Monday’s match, Gauff said she thanked Venus “for everything she did.”

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her,” said Gauff, who joined the crowd in applauding for Venus as she walked off the court. “And I was just telling her that she’s so inspiring. Like, I always wanted to tell her that. And even though I met her before, I guess now I have the guts to.”

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DISCUSSION

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Nina Lemone

I definitely think Osaka losing is an upset—she’s the world #2 and really should do better on grass considering she could rightfully be called one of the best hardcourt players on tour at the moment. But Gauff vs. Venus? That said “trap game” all over it. Venus is a champ, a boss, one of the greatest on grass, and a legend and trailblazer for her sport and sport in general...

But come on. Coco has been on the come up. She’s been the next-next biggest thing for about two years now. She’s sharp after going through qualies, half Venus’s age (no offense, but it matters), and isn’t battling an autoimmune disease that zaps her of energy. I’m amazed at the level Venus has continued to play the game when the media keeps asking when she’ll stop. Gauff, though, she’s coming into her own. This was always a trickier matchup for Venus. This was no upset. Swalwell might call it a passing of the torch.

Gauff was so calm. Her serve was on. She barely put a ball out of place. And she wasn’t shook by who was across the net. It seriously was like recapturing the feeling of watching a younger Venus and Serena when I was a little girl. The Williams sisters’ influence is unreal.

Also! Thank you for not infantilizing Osaka like Deadspin does. There is so much to respect about her poise, character, and game. Going the “aww she’s so now we have a sad too” route is just infuriating.