Cori “Coco” Gauff wowed the world at 2019 Wimbledon when, as the youngest athlete to qualify for that Grand Slam, she beat one of her biggest idols, Venus Williams. She’s only 15. Then, in her US Open debut on August 27, Coco, ranked 140th, came out on top against Russia’s 72nd-ranked Anastasia Potapova 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. According to CNN, Coco is the youngest player EVER in the draw and was a wild card pick.
The 2019 US Open is only her second Grand Slam, but already people are filling seats to see her compete and chanting for her in show of support. She even wrote her name on her tennis shoes to remind us that she’s here to stay. At that first US Open match, on the outside of each shoe, Coco had written “Call Me Coco” in black Sharpie (which we should all do to ours, so our opponents know we mean business!)
The tennies appear to be a nod to New Balance’s “Call Me Coco” campaign, which is all about the 15-year-old defying the odds and proving her place among the greatest on the world stage:
What made me the most nostalgic about these shoes was the fact that you can buy them and other Coco merch on the New Balance website (everything is currently SOLD OUT), but Coco made a bold statement by hand-writing her name in permanent marker. She’s embracing her youth while impressing us with her maturity, challenging athletes of all ages and to make a name for herself in tennis.
During a press conference after her US Open match, Coco told reporters that the platform she’s been given means a lot to her.
The amount of people and kids especially that come up to me saying that it inspires them is honestly better than any match I could win, just to know that I inspire another kid maybe to pick up a racket or go through something that they’re facing at school . . . I just hope I can continue this and continue to inspire. Because what I do on court is great, but really what matters is what happens off court and the people you affect.
Tonight (August 29) at 7:00 pm (ET), Coco will play her first-ever second round of the 2019 US Open against Timea Babos from Hungary in Louis Armstrong Stadium. But for now, take a closer look at those sneakers — and remember to call her Coco!