LONDON – Did she win? Did she win?
Men, women, girls and boys scanned the horizon at the All England Club on Friday evening, looking for a scoreboard to make sense of the roar rising from Centre Court.
As cheers drifted off into the air, and dusk fell on southwest London, tournament organizers added another name to the fourth round of the Wimbledon draw.
Cori Gauff, or ‘Coco’ to anyone who has been paying attention. You bet she won.
The 15-year-old American hit back from a set down, saving a match point in the process, to reach the fourth round of the world’s most prestigious tennis championships.
Make no mistake, a star has been born.
Perhaps not since Bjorn Borg transcended tennis in the late 1970s, sending shudders down the spine of the Wimbledon crowd, has a player had such an impact on this oldest and most venerable of venues.
“She’s amazing,” grinned Stephanie, a worker at Wimbledon who had recently clocked off shift and was enjoying the end-of-day atmosphere of the tournament.
Few would disagree in the wake of Gauff’s 3-6 7-6 7-5 victory over Slovenian Polona Hercog.
“It’s just crazy,” the Florida-based Gauff said. “Pretty surreal how life changes in a matter of seconds.
‘SCREAMING MY NAME’
“The most unexpected message I received – well, it wasn’t really a message. Miss Tina Knowles, Beyonce’s mom, posted me on Instagram. I was, like, screaming,” she said, explaining the impact her run here has had.
“I don’t know, like I hope Beyonce saw that. I hope she told her daughter about me because I would love to go to a concert.”
The youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon since tennis turned professional a little over half a century ago, Gauff has captured the imagination.
She rolled her idol and five-times champion Venus Williams in the first round and has now made Wimbledon Centre Court – one of the most hallowed patches of grass in world sport – her own.
Surely organizers dare not cast her out to a court more befitting her ranking (313) if not her growing status?
Not bad for her first foray at a Grand Slam event.
“I remember before I played Venus… when you walk to leave the practice courts, there are people waiting,” she smiled. “One little kid asked me for a picture.
“Then after the next day, after I played Venus, everybody was screaming my name.”
Screams aside, Gauff is refusing to get ahead of herself, no matter how fast the roller-coaster is accelerating.
“I don’t really believe in fate and destiny,” she said. “I feel like you can kind of change your own world. Like sometimes fate can always not be a good thing. Sometimes fate can be a bad thing. (Reuters)