“I mean at the end of the day, she’s basically a junior in high school,” Corey Gauff said. “And anybody knows in high school you are still developing and learning so there’s a big growth between 15 and 16 and more big growth between 16 and 17. She just has the uniqueness of growing up on tour and on TV, so every time she does something it’s news, and everybody is watching everything she’s doing. But she’s just developing, and she’s developing actually pretty quickly and playing more matches this year compared to 2020, where she played so few matches, is really helping her develop.”
The tour’s five-month hiatus last year was both a burden and a blessing, isolating for a teenager but also a chance to work on improving her weaknesses outside the spotlight. But Corey Gauff said Coco struggled mentally when the tour resumed because of the restrictions.
“This year is better,” Corey Gauff said. “Last year was tough. You could see that it was weighing on her. She was ranked high enough that she was more in the senior hotel, and her friends weren’t in that hotel. And the restrictions were much stricter last year than now. You literally just went to the court and came back and that wasn’t a lot of fun for her. It showed up in her tennis, too. She just wasn’t happy, wasn’t as excited being in the bubbles last year.”
They are back in the same Paris hotel as in last year’s French Open, back to playing the card game Uno in the evenings, but now able to spend an hour outside the bubble daily. Though Coco has not yet been vaccinated, Corey Gauff said he and his wife Candi have been, which alleviates some concern and testing regimens.
“That hour outside the bubble makes a world of difference,” he said.
Candi Gauff was not traveling with her husband and daughter earlier in the clay-court season, but she has joined them for Roland Garros, leaving the Gauffs’s two younger sons at home in Delray Beach, Fla. with grandparents. “It’s nice to have her here,” Coco Gauff said.
Corey Gauff said that Coco benefits from her mother’s presence and also her expertise. Candi Gauff was a hurdler and heptathlete at Florida State.
“She needs her mom,” he said. “Teenage girls need their mother, because those are the ones who help them become young women and help them deal with things and pressures and of course my wife was a world-class athlete, so she understands the pressures and the discipline and preparation and proper nutrition and all the physiology that goes with it. It’s better her mom telling her than her dad telling her.”