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Saturday, 19 October 2019

Tennis: Youngster Gauff reminds Serena of herself

AFP , Saturday 29 Jun 2019
 Serena Williams
Serena Williams of the U.S. waves after losing the women's singles final against Germany's Angelique Kerber (Photo: Reuters)
Views: 1134
Views: 1134

American tennis legend Serena Williams says the sight of 15-year-old compatriot Cori Gauff training with her father reminds her of her own early days on the circuit doing the same thing.

The 37-year-old former world number one -- bidding for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title at this year's Wimbledon -- and her sister Venus were coached from the age of four by their father Richard.

In one of the more intriguing first round match-ups in the women's singles, 39-year-old Venus will play Gauff, who became the youngest ever woman's qualifier earlier this week.

"She's such a fantastic young lady," said Serena at her pre-Wimbledon press conference.

"She works very hard. Every time I have work, I see her out there working, training, her and her dad.

"It reminds me of the time where I was out there with my dad.

"I can't help but look inside of myself and be proud and be happy for her. Yeah, so it's really nice to see."

For the younger Williams sister the resemblances don't just stop there as she also sees similarities between five-time Wimbledon champion Venus and Gauff, who is ranked 257 places lower than her.

"It's a great moment for her (Gauff) and for Venus," said Williams.

"She's playing against a player that actually reminds me of Venus, her body and everything.

"It will be a good match. I might watch but I always get nervous watching Venus."

Williams, who says her build-up for a tilt at an eighth Wimbledon singles crown has not been ideal due to a knee injury which is now much better, did not realise Australian Ashleigh Barty had become world number one.

"Wow, that's great," she said on learning French Open champion Barty was top of the rankings.

"I think Ash -- I don't know anyone that has anything negative to say about her.

"She's like the sweetest, cutest girl on tour.

"She has the most beautiful game, such classic shots. I mean, she does everything right. Her technique is, like, flawless."

Williams believes Barty could stay number one for a while having taken over from Naomi Osaka.

"I think so," said Williams, whose own French Open campaign ended in a third round loss to fellow American Sofia Kenin in what was her earliest exit at a Slam since 2014.

"I think she has a great game. I think, like, she's really even-tempered.

"She's just really chill. I feel like she's just so relaxed in a way.

"She's had a solid year, as well. It's not just the French Open. She won Miami. Yeah, I think anything is possible."

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