A Star Is Born

Delray’s own: Coco Gauff


Every now and again an athlete breaks through and touches the hearts and minds of people all over the world.
The ability to capture those hearts is part of the magic of sports.

Maybe it’s the talent it takes to excel, maybe it’s the sacrifice or the personal story. Regardless, some athletes seem to rise above.

You don’t have to be a tennis fan to be caught up in the story of Cori “Coco” Gauff.

The 15-year-old from Delray Beach will play in the Round of 16 today at Wimbledon and that’s a monumental achievement.  Coco is making headlines all over the world after three scintillating victories, including a convincing first round win over her hero Venus Williams who also has extensive ties to Delray.

There are many aspects to the Coco story. Yes, she’s the youngest. Yes, she’s the “next one” and yes she has a very big game.
But she also has the “it” factor, that intangible that is hard to explain but you sure know it when you see it.

She plays without fear.

Staring down her idol Venus, beating a past semi finalist in the second round and digging deep to escape a tough third round match against a powerful and experienced opponent who was playing very very well announced to all who were watching that they were witnessing something special.

Coco has that champion’s demeanor. She know she belongs. And despite what must be enormous pressure she continues to play fearlessly, going for shots and digging deep  when she gets in a hole.
It’s amazing to watch. And she has become the story of the tournament no matter what happens from here on out.

You get the sense that you are watching history, the glorious coming out party of a special transcendent athlete.

Of course, a few wins at a high profile event does not a career make.
But…this feels different. This feels real.

For her hometown of Delray Beach, Coco’s amazing run has been a joyous occasion.
Large crowds gather at her parents restaurant, The Paradise Sports Lounge on West Atlantic Avenue and Military Trail for “watch parties” that have been covered on the national and international news.

Leading the cheers are Coco’s grandmother –the wonderful Yvonne Odom, herself an historic figure as the first African American student to attend Atlantic High School.
We’ve written about my friend Mrs. Odom on this site. She’s special too.

That her own athletic ambitions were scuttled by the racial attitudes of the times is a part of her grand daughter’s amazing story. Yvonne was not able to play sports at Atlantic despite her considerable athletic talents.
To see Coco thrive at Wimbledon must be extra special for Mrs. Odom and her family. You can see the joy the family is experiencing and it’s inspiring.
I’ll be hoping that the run continues. But even if it ends today or with Coco lifting the championship trophy, we have a strong sense that this story is just beginning.


  1. Carol saxton says

    wow! Congratulations you lady! You deserve winning all the way! Giving hope to all the young people out there you have proven to them to follow your dream! All the best!!

  2. Thank you for acknowledging this lovely and talented young Lady.
    I await to hear her success as an up and coming “Tennis Star” from
    Delray Beach!

  3. What results did this lady show at Wimbledon? Will you continue to publish information about her future success? I am inspired by such stories, I am an athlete myself, so for me it is very important. Thank.

    • Jeff Perlman says

      She lost to the eventual champ….and yes we will continue to follow her. Good luck on your endeavors!

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