June 29, 2021
Wimbledon, London, UK
C. GAUFF/F. Jones
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How did that match feel for you today? How does it feel to be back at Wimbledon?
COCO GAUFF: Yeah, I mean, today I was really nervous going in, my first time back since everything happened in 2019. Francesca, she came out on the court, she came swinging and playing really well. She played well the whole match. Just a few points here and there that were lucky to go my way.
But I think today, like, was a solid first-round performance for me.
Q. Serena Williams retired after injury. A few players had problems with slipping. How did you find the court? Did you experience this, as well?
COCO GAUFF: Yeah, I mean, I think everybody saw me slipping and sliding out there on the court.
I think what might have -- I don't know about Serena's court because she's on Centre, I'm on an outside court. My court, I didn't realize this till after the match, but my coaches were telling me when I was going to get my towel, the ground was super wet in the back so it was causing my shoes to get wet; therefore, I was slipping a little bit.
Also, that's just in general. No one is really used to moving on grass because the season is so short. People are bound to have slips and falls.
With Serena, I mean, it was hard for me to watch that. I'm a big fan of her, even though I'm a competitor now. But she's the reason why I started to play tennis. It's hard to watch any player get injured, but especially her.
Q. You were watching Serena when she pulled out. What was your reaction when she waved to the crowd? It was an emotional moment out there.
COCO GAUFF: Yeah, it was not easy to watch. Actually I turned away. I was in the gym actually stretching. I turned away because stuff like that makes me, like, really emotional.
I mean, I wish her the best. I wish that hopefully she can have a speedy recovery. Yeah, you could tell she was really emotional. Nobody ever wants to retire, but especially at a Grand Slam, a place as special as Wimbledon after waiting two years to come back.
The only thing I can do is wish her well wishes and hope she'll be back in time for the hard court season.
Q. Do you know you two were in the same part of the draw?
COCO GAUFF: No, I didn't know that. I don't really look at the draw. I did know we were on the same side because we played the same day, but I didn't know, like, what round I would have to play her or anything like that.
Q. You had a warm embrace at the end. What did you say to her at the end?
COCO GAUFF: Well, she's a super nice girl. We aren't really as close as the embrace may seem. I mean, we talk to each other often.
For me, it's just like she really gave it her all today. Today, like, the match she didn't give me much to work with. Her story is incredible. I guess from people telling her that she couldn't play tennis or let alone go pro or make it this far. The fact that she's here, giving it her all, is something I really respect as an athlete.
Also after the match it took her a while to get to the net. I think she was really trying to savor the moment. I basically told her that you're going to have plenty more moments like this but you'll be the one winning the match instead. Don't let this match affect you because if you compete like that, the way she did, if you're a competitor, you compete hard every point, you'll have matches that go your way in the future.
I think with her, she's just an outstanding person, outstanding player, that she'll go far. I was just, you know, letting her know don't let this crush you because matches like this can really hurt or break a player. I don't want it to break her. I want her to build this for her, and next time when she has a match like this, maybe even against me or against someone else, that she knows what to do and come out on top.
Q. For the Olympics, was it an easy decision to play the Olympics? There's a lot of American athletes, especially in tennis, choosing not to.
COCO GAUFF: For me personally, yes. That was one of the goals this year, was to qualify for the team. So, yeah, the decision was to always play if I was able to make the team. Especially my mom, she ran track. She didn't make the Olympics, but it was one of her dreams. She told me that I kind of accomplished that dream for her.
Q. Have you talked to any of the other Americans? I think the top five American guys are not going.
COCO GAUFF: I actually haven't spoken to the ones that haven't gone. I've spoken to the ones that go. From what I've heard, I think it's just the bubble regulations I think with Tokyo. You're not allowed to bring really anyone. I'm just lucky that I'm still 17 so my dad will be able to go.
That's the only understanding that I have of it. I haven't really spoken to the ones who decided not to go; I've spoken to the ones who are on the team.
Q. Do you have any doubles plans for women's or mixed in Tokyo?
COCO GAUFF: I'm not allowed to say (smiling). I was told that I'm not allowed to say. You guys can keep yourselves on your toes. I would love to say it right now, but when I found out on the decision on whether I'm playing or not, I was told I'm not allowed to say anything. So yeah.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports