Coco Gauff stands on a tennis court holding up a racket and poised to hit a ball.

Go, Coco!

At age 19, Coco Gauff is one of the world’s top tennis players.

Coco Gauff stands on a tennis court holding up a racket and poised to hit a ball.

Robert Prange/Getty Images Sport

Coco Gauff has a bright future.

Coco Gauff just had a very good year. In 2023, the 19-year-old Gauff won the U.S. Open, which is one of the world’s four major tennis championships. Many people believe Gauff could become one of the greats in her sport.

Gauff’s rise in her sport has been slow and steady. She won some junior tennis titles as a kid, and pretty soon she was playing in major tournaments (tennis events) against some of the players she has always looked up to. In June 2019, Gauff had a chance to play at Wimbledon, a major tournament in England. Only 15 at the time, she played against the great Venus Williams—and won that round.

Since then, Gauff has had a chance to spend time with Venus and her tennis-star sister, Serena. She says the sisters are serious on the tennis court, but they know how to relax too.

“They’re goofy, fun people. That’s the coolest part,” Gauff told the Guardian. “They taught me you could be yourself and still be intense on court.”

Later in 2019, Gauff took part in the U.S. Open and found herself out of the contest when she lost a match against top tennis player Naomi Osaka. She was frustrated and upset. But at 16, she’d made it to the third round of one of the biggest events in her sport. It was a big deal. Gauff played against Osaka again, at the 2020 Australian Open. She won the match.

Gauff’s 2023 U.S. Open victory is her first win in a major tennis event—and her steady improvement suggests it won’t be the last.

Meanwhile, Time magazine sees a bright future for Gauff. The publication named Gauff as one of its 10 Women of the Year for 2024. The list is made up of what Time calls “extraordinary leaders.” Tennis talent isn’t the only reason Gauff made the list. She often speaks out on issues she cares about, such as climate change and equal rights for all.


Making Time for Fun

Coco Gauff smiles and pretends to play a tiny toy guitar.

Robert Prange/Getty Images Sport

Like the Williams sisters, Coco Gauff makes sure to have fun off the tennis court. She’s a big fan of Marvel comics. She also loves Beyoncé. In 2023, while traveling to play in different tennis events in Europe, Gauff went to a Beyoncé concert and had the time of her life.

“She was amazing!” Gauff told the Guardian. “She didn’t wave at me from the stage, but I’m going to say she did.”

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Fun Fact

A king and three knights play tennis with their bare hands in front of a castle.

© Designvectorpro, Ernest Akayeu/, © yusufdemirci/; Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Tennis dates back to a game played in the 1100s or so. Back then, players hit the ball with their bare hands!

Top of Their Sports

Wally McNamee—Corbis Historical, Focus on Sport, Quinn Rooney—Getty Images Sports, Hulton Archive—Archive Photos/Getty Images, Ed Kellinovsky/AP Images; Photo composite Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Clockwise from top left: Dawn Fraser, Serena Williams, Nadia Comăneci, Babe Didriksen, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

March is Women’s History Month. To celebrate, we’re listing some women who reached the top of their sports. We had a tough time picking only five athletes to write about! Who is your favorite woman in sports?

Dawn Fraser
Sport: Swimming
Country: Australia

Dawn Fraser was the first woman to win gold medals in swimming at three Olympic games in a row (1956, 1960, and 1964). Fraser also broke the women’s world record for the 100-meter freestyle race nine years in a row. In 1964, she swam that race in 58.9 seconds. Her record wasn’t broken until 1972.

Serena Williams
Sport: Tennis
Country: United States

Many people believe Serena Williams is the best tennis player of all time. Some even say she’s the best athlete ever. Why? During her career, Williams won 23 major tennis tournaments (called Grand Slam titles) as a singles player. She won 14 as a doubles player, teaming up with her sister, Venus. Williams won her last Grand Slam title in 2017 at the record age of 35 years, four months, and two days—and she was pregnant at the time. Williams also has four Olympic gold medals, which she won at the 2000, 2008, and 2012 games.

Nadia Comăneci
Sport: Gymnastics
Country: Romania

At the 1976 Summer Olympics, everyone was talking about Nadia Comăneci. Comăneci didn’t just win the individual all-around (all-event) gold medal. She also won gold medals for the balance beam and the uneven bars. Even more amazing, her score on the uneven bars was the world’s first “perfect 10,” the highest score possible at the time.

Babe Didrikson
Sports: Track & Field and Golf
Country: United States

Did you notice two sports listed below Babe Didrikson’s name? Didrikson was good at pretty much any sport she tried. She started playing baseball as a kid and got so many home runs that teammates called her “Babe” after baseball star Babe Ruth. As a teen, basketball was her sport. At the 1932 Summer Olympics, Didrikson won two gold medals—in track & field! She later became a top professional golfer.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Sport: Track & Field
Country: United States

The heptathlon is a track & field event that requires athletes to take part in the 100-meter hurdles, the high jump, the shot put, the 200-meter run, the long jump, the javelin throw, and the 800-meter run. That’s a lot of skills, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee had all of them. She was the first person to score more than 7,000 points in a heptathlon. She won gold medals in the heptathlon at the 1988 and 1992 Summer Olympics.

Women’s History Month

Photo collage showing accomplished women in many fields from the past to the present.

seraficus—iStock, David Hume Kennerly, James D. Morgan, Jonas Gratzer, Azael Rodriguez, JP Yim, Space Frontiers—Archive Photos, Addison N. Scurlock—Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images, U.S. Department of the Interior, Cia Pak/UN Photo; Photo composite Encycopædia Britannica, Inc.

It’s Women’s History Month! You’ve read a lot about women in sports. Want to read about women in science, entertainment, government, and more? Check out Britannica!

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