A lot of people decided Coco Gauff was going to be special when she beat Venus Williams at Wimbledon as a 15-year old, and it wasn’t necessarily the wrong impulse. For better or worse, tennis loves its prodigies, and here were two of them — one at the beginning of the journey, the other at the end — providing a moment of symmetry and poetry that we would all remember when Gauff started lifting major trophies like Williams used to.

But in some ways, a more revealing moment for Gauff occurred last summer, long after she had been eliminated from the singles draw at the U.S. Open.

By then, the 17-year old Gauff was already kind of a veteran of the pro tour with two singles titles under her belt and a steadily improving world ranking. Her progress was obvious and consistency impressive, yet she was no longer the leading star of her generation.





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