Teen Gauff says rapid rise led to depression

LOS ANGLES • Teenage tennis sensation Coco Gauff has revealed she suffered depression as a 14-year-old, just before her historic Wimbledon breakthrough.

The American said she struggled with mental health issues after being constantly touted as the sport's next big thing and hailed as the "new Serena Williams".

"Throughout my life, I was always the youngest to do things, which added hype that I didn't want," she told the Behind The Racquet website. "It added this pressure that I needed to do well fast.

"Right before Wimbledon, going back to around 2017-18, I was struggling to figure out if this was really what I wanted. I always had the results… I just found myself not enjoying what I loved. I realised I needed to start playing for myself and not other people.

"For about a year, I was really depressed. That was the toughest year for me so far."

She has had to deal with a great deal more pressure in the last 12 months after becoming – at just 15 – the youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon last year. She went on to reach the last 16 at the All England Club, beating former champion Venus Williams on the way.

The high school student has since lifted her first WTA title at Linz, making her the youngest champion on the Tour since 2004.

When she entered Wimbledon last year, she was ranked at No. 313. She is now No. 52, having jumped to a career high 49th in February.

While the 16-year-old understands that the comparisons with the Williams sisters will only intensify, she does not see herself in the same league as them.

"I always feel like it's not fair to the Williams sisters to be compared to someone who is just coming up," she explained. "I still look at them as my idols. Of course, I hope to get to where they are, but they are the two women that set the pathway for myself, which is why I can never be them."

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