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September 27, 2020

Coco Gauff

Paris, France

Press Conference

C. GAUFF/J. Konta

6-3, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. I know you've been struggling a bit with your second serve. You did clinch the first set with a second serve winner. What were you working on after the US Open?

COCO GAUFF: I think really it's just a mind thing. It's something that I have to continue to build my confidence on. I mean, it is what it is. Hopefully it gets better (smiling).

I try not to focus on it too much. I mean, obviously it's kind of a big deal because I'm losing a lot of points because of it. But I think it will get better. I'm confident that it will get better.

Q. After one of your doubles, you yelled at yourself, Focus. What exactly are you trying to focus on with the serve?

COCO GAUFF: Just the toss and the rhythm of the serve. Especially with the wind, sometimes I have a bad tendency of hitting bad tosses when instead I should just catch and restart. Really, I was just telling myself to focus on being patient and catching the ball over and over again. I know it gets annoying, but it's windy, you can't help it.

Q. Obviously been on tour a little more than a year now, an unusual year. Do you still surprise yourself being 16, beating last year's semifinalist in straight sets? Is that something you go, Whoa, pretty big deal? Are you getting used to winning matches at slams?

COCO GAUFF: I wasn't really thinking about that on the court. I mean, every match is, like, a great win. I don't really take anything for granted because I'm just happy to be playing. I don't think maybe winning slams, matches at slams is something I'm used to. Especially this is my first main draw Roland Garros.

When I'm on the court I can act like I'm used to it. When I'm off the court, I'm just happy to be here.

Q. The weather and the conditions out there, what did that feel like to you? Probably not what you're used to where you've done your growing up.

COCO GAUFF: Yeah, it was definitely difficult. I literally warmed up for so long before the match because I wanted to come on the court sweating, which I always try to do that. When you're playing in a warmer climate, it's definitely easier to get warmed up in just the four minutes.

This time it was like 20 minutes before my match I was just doing everything high intensity. Obviously wearing the leggings and everything.

I mean, other than the wind, like the coldness and everything was obviously a factor, but I guess when you're out there on the court, I mean, you do feel the cold. I don't know, when you're moving, it's not so much. When we sit on the changeovers, you can literally feel the difference when you're not moving, when you're staying still.

Q. This was your first main draw match in Paris. Do you think of this as you walk out there today? Your mindset heading into the match, do you think, Oh, this is my first time playing in the French Open? Do you think, Hey, I've been on clay courts plenty of time, so what's the big deal? You've won the junior title here. Sort of describe what your mindset was heading into this match as your first time playing in the French Open main draw.

COCO GAUFF: Honestly, my dad told me something in the warmup. He was just telling me, like, You're living your dream, so just enjoy and have fun. His goal was to become an NBA player, and he didn't make it. He told me, You're living your dream, not everybody gets to do that, just have fun on the court.

That really changed my perspective. I was really nervous going into the match. That just calmed me down. I realized it's just a tennis match. I'm doing some things that people wish they could do. Just go out there and enjoy it.

Q. Where was that conversation?

COCO GAUFF: In the gym maybe right after Jeremy finished his match. Right before I was going on court.

Q. Obviously you will be playing in different conditions in your next round. How are you preparing for the next round? What lessons did you take from this match today? What can be improved for your next match?

COCO GAUFF: Well, I definitely have a little bit more experience playing in these conditions. I'm pretty sure this is my first, like, ever pro tournament, maybe even tournament in general, playing in weather like this. It was definitely a new adjustment I had to make in the match.

I guess now I kind of know what works for me because all the way down to the clothes, at first I wasn't going to wear the leggings in my match. At the last second I put them on. So now I know that that works for me. That's what I'm going to do with the next match.

Q. The leggings, how often in the past have you worn extra clothes in a tennis match?

COCO GAUFF: Honestly the last time I remember doing that is when I was, like, 10. I used to play, I don't know, like little tournaments in the winter in Georgia. We were all wearing leg stuff. It kind of brought me back to when we were younger, we used to have these pocket warmers in our pockets. In between points we would hold them to warm up our hands (smiling).

Yeah, playing with leggings... I mean, I practice in leggings all the time. Obviously playing with a skirt on is different. I had to make an adjustment because the ball felt like it was going to slide out of my pocket. I didn't have the ball in my pocket any more.

Q. You were giving her no pace, she didn't like that at all. You're one of the few players who hits forehand slices to change it up. How did that shot come into your game?

COCO GAUFF: Honestly, it was like really an adjustment I made today. I know that she likes to play really hard and play the ball into her. So coming into the match I already knew I was going to change the pace and everything.

I mean, to be honest, I was surprised how good the slice was today. I mean, the backhand slice I work on a lot. It's not the best, but I try to work on it. The forehand slice, I think it was just natural. I knew I had to change up the pace of the ball, especially in the conditions. I would think that I have the perfect setup, and all of a sudden the wind would change it. I would just slice it back.

Yeah, I don't really work on that. I guess it came in handy today.

Q. What do you think of Naomi Osaka and what she was doing with her masks and the protests she was doing during that tournament and what she did the week before that during the Cincinnati tournament? You've spoken out as well in Delray. What do you make of what Naomi's role was there? She was able to do that and also win the tournament.

COCO GAUFF: I think for her, I mean, that's just great. I know speaking on that subject is very mentally draining. For her to do that and continuing to win just shows how mentally tough she is.

I think, like, obviously it spread a lot of awareness. I think it really got conversations starting. Especially tennis is being watched all around the world. It probably reached places that the movement didn't reach before.

I mean, big congratulations to her on winning the tournament. Obviously that's great. But then the cherry on top was her doing that, as well.

Q. What did you think of the Cincinnati tournament stopping? NBA stopped that week. What do you think of the tennis tournaments joining in?

COCO GAUFF: Honestly, I think it's something I didn't expect. I think it was, like, the right thing to do obviously. But, you know, tennis is not really like a sport that would make those changes and make groundbreaking things. When I heard the news, I was happy. I was really shocked. I really strongly believe it was because of Naomi. That just shows how one person can kind of change and make a difference.

Q. When you arrived in Paris, you said you were returning to your favorite city in the world. What makes it so special? Why do you love it so much? Do you think it will help you to play some of your best tennis by inspiring you?

COCO GAUFF: Honestly, really what made me love Paris is when I was 10, that was the first city I ever visited outside of the United States. I visited the Mouratoglou academy that is in Paris. Ever since then I really loved it.

I think it's just the culture and the architecture, the food, everything. I just really love it. It's just so different from home. Especially the croissants, that's a personal favorite of mine. I haven't had any crepes yet. I have to stay healthy for the tournament. When it's over, I'll be eating a lot of those.

Q. Do you think it will inspire you to play your best tennis?

COCO GAUFF: Yeah, definitely. Being in a place that makes you happy will definitely make a difference on the court.

Q. It seems like a lot of the black players are very supportive of each other, even though you may not know each other that well. Can you imagine ever making a joint statement together?

COCO GAUFF: I mean, I feel like we're all individual players. I know we did something with Frances on his video. I haven't really thought about a joint statement.

I think I said this before. It's not a black or white thing. It's an everyone-against-racism thing. I think it's just more powerful if everyone comes together. I think that's why the movement now really made worldwide headlines and everything is because not only black people were out protesting, it was also allies from other races helping as well.

To be honest, it's really all the players on tour, I mean, we are coming together, a lot of players, other players, spoke out about it. I think it's just everyone coming together, not so much just like a certain race of players, if that makes sense.

Q. On the second serve, what do you think makes it hard or harder?

COCO GAUFF: I think it's just confidence, just a mind thing. I mean, in practice I make the serves. I don't really think it's a technical thing. I mean, we talk to a lot of people. Sometimes I mess up and hit a bad toss.

I mean, when I'm out there on the court, I know I double-fault a lot, but I try not to think of it. Today was better. I still double-faulted a lot, but it was better than Rome. I don't think I had any consecutive double-faults, so that's a plus.

I think it's just continuing to improve on little things. Even though it wasn't my best performance serving-wise, I take the positive and continue to build on that.

Q. You had the wonderful serve on the set point. Did you watch the US Open men's final and did you take any solace in seeing Sascha struggle with a 68-mile-an-hour serve on championship point?

COCO GAUFF: I saw that on the championship point. I mean, I don't have any comment on it. To be honest, championship point, that's kind of tight. You have to serve in the court. Also they're out there playing five sets. I don't know where the energy level is.

I don't think it's really my place to speak about it because we all experience different things on the court. I didn't get to see the whole final because I fell asleep. I was in Europe watching it, so I fell asleep.

I mean, it was pretty epic. Definitely one for the history books.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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