Cori Gauff beat Venus Williams in a historical Wimbledon match, but it’s important not to fixate too much on the age difference between the pair.
Wimbledon started yesterday (1 July) with a highly-anticipated game between Cori Gauff and Venus Williams. The speculation around the match was mostly due to the collective fixation over the 24-year age difference between this year’s tennis tournament’s youngest and oldest female players.
A quick Google search this morning brought up five headlines that led with Gauff’s age. Of course, it was a mighty moment for Gauff, and her strength and talent should be celebrated. And beating a five-time Wimbledon champion when you’re still in your teens is no easy feat, for sure. But by focusing on her age compared to Williams’, it only gives traction to ageism against women in the game. We only need to look at the times male Andy Murray has called out sexist news reporters on behalf of his female peers to understand how often the media seizes an opportunity to trample over female sports players.
Many tennis champions (and sports stars from other fields) usually go on to coach, commentate or completely retire after their mid-thirties. But Williams defied this, along with the illnesses and injuries she has endured, to become the oldest woman to reach a Wimbledon singles final since Martina Navratilova in 1994. This means that Williams should also be celebrated when reflecting on their game’s significance.
But it was Gauff who won 6-1, 6-1 in one hour and 19 minutes, and who will go on to battle it out for the champion title
She was incredibly gracious after winning the match against one of her “idols”, which she described as being “a dream” to play. Gauff told the BBC: “Honestly, I don’t really know how to feel. This was definitely the first time I ever cried after a match or winning. Obviously, I’ve cried when I’ve lost before. But I just don’t know how to explain how I feel.”
Recalling the moment that Williams shook her hand after the game, she continued: “She just told me ‘Congratulations’, and to keep going and good luck. After the match, I just told her: ‘Thank you for what you did, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you.’ I was just telling her she’s so amazing, I always wanted to tell her that.”
Regardless of their ages, Williams and Gauff both delivered and deserve to be very proud.
Who is tennis player Cori Gauff?
American athlete “Coco” Gauff is the youngest player to qualify for the main draw at Wimbledon after winning three matches without losing a single set. She won the junior French Open title in 2018 when she was just 14 years old. Off the court, Forbes reports that she is predicted to earn more than $1m (£790,000) in 2019 thanks to group of sponsors