Cori 'Coco' Gauff keeps on winning at Wimbledon

The 15-year-old Atlanta girl advanced to the fourth round.
Image: TENNIS-GBR-WIMBLEDON
Cori "Coco" Gauff celebrates winning the second set against Slovenia's Polona Hercog during their women's singles third round match on the fifth day of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships on July 5, 2019.Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP - Getty Images

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By David K. Li and Blayne Alexander

Teenage sensation Cori "Coco" Gauff continued her Cinderella run at Wimbledon on Friday as she rallied for a hard-fought, 3-6, 7-6, 7-5, victory over Slovenian veteran Polona Hercog.

The 15-year-old who made international headlines with her first-round upset of her childhood idol Venus Williams is now just one victory away from the quarterfinals at the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club.

Her fourth-round opponent will be Romanian Simona Halep on Monday. Halep is currently the world's No. 6-ranked women's singles player and won last year's French Open.

Despite the rough start on Friday, dropping the first set, and later facing two match points, Gauff said she never lost confidence and fed off the underdog-loving Wimbledon crowd.

“I always knew that I could come back no matter what the score was,” Gauff told ESPN moments after the match. “The crowd was amazing, even when I was down a match point they were still cheering me on.”

The teen seemed wise beyond her years, later telling reporters she wants to enjoy every moment of this ride. The only females younger than Gauff to reach Round of 16 in the modern era of Wimbledon are Jennifer Capriati, Steffi Graf and Andrea Jaeger.

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“Obviously, this moment is an incredible moment,” Gauff said. “I’m still excited I get to keep living it.”

But she also showed plenty of youthful enthusiasm, explaining how excited she was to get an Instagram post by Beyonce's mother.

“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.

“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.”

And when told her overjoyed mom was wildly waving her arms in the air after the win, Gauff's mind immediately turned to social media.

“Please tell me she’s a meme,” Gauff said. “I’m so excited to go on Instagram.”

The teen's parents said they give her only the most basic advice — to have a good time and remain calm.

"Usually what I tell her is to have fun, enjoy the moment, fight, compete and give it your best shot," her mother, Candi Gauff, told NBC News before the match.

Dad Corey Gauff said he's always reminding her daughter to keep: "Cheering yourself on, having good body language, let your opponent know nothing you do is going to faze me because I'm going to keep coming back."

When the teen sensation took the court last week to play Williams, she had to go through a hallway plastered with pictures of Venus holding up championship trophies.

"She's got her earphones on, she's listening to music. She's walking and I'm walking behind her and I'm hoping she's not intimidated because as we're walking we see Venus holding up a trophy, go a little further, Venus (is) holding up another trophy," a laughing Corey Gauff recalled.

"Go a little bit further, there's another picture of Venus holding up the trophy and in my mind I'm thinking, just don't look to the left or right. Just keep going straight ahead. You need no reminders that she won this fives times."

CORRECTION (July 8, 2019, 11:55 a.m.): A previous version of this article misspelled the name of a past Wimbledon competitor. She is Andrea Jaeger, not Jaegar.

Doha Madani, Associated Press and Reuters contributed.