Serena to retire: Gauff pays tribute to 'GOAT of all GOATs'
Coco Gauff described Serena Williams as "the reason why I play tennis" as she paid tribute to the soon-to-retire great, declaring: "There will never be another Serena."
Williams, a 23-time grand slam champion, announced in a piece in Vogue on Tuesday that she would soon retire.
The 40-year-old did not provide a firm date for the end of her career, but hinted that she could bow out after the US Open, which begins at the end of August.
Williams had won her first singles match in over a year on Monday at the Canadian Open, yet she wrote of the need to now prioritise her family.
And Gauff, playing at the same event in Toronto, was not short of praise for a legend of the sport.
"She's just been playing forever, my whole life," Gauff said after beating Madison Brengle.
"The legacy that she's left throughout her tennis career is something that I don't think any other player can probably touch.
"I think that the legacy that she'll continue to leave throughout her life is something that can inspire many more generations."
Gauff, a highly talented 18-year-old, has no interest in any tag as the 'next Serena', although she can take inspiration from Williams in dealing with such pressure.
"I've learned a lot from them [Serena and sister Venus]," Gauff said.
"People always tell me that you're going to be 'next whatever', blah, blah, blah, and Serena has been considered the GOAT [greatest of all time] for at least the second half of her career, and she never succumbed to that pressure.
"I think she overcame it, and I think that's something I take from her and try to learn from it. Not that I'm at her level and experiencing the same pressure she is, but in the moment I try to emulate that.
"For me, I grew up watching her. That's the reason why I play tennis, and tennis being a predominantly white sport, it definitely helped a lot, because I saw somebody who looked like me dominating the game, and it made me believe I could dominate, too.
"She's the GOAT. And undisputed, too, in my opinion. But I don't think that's an opinion, it's a fact.
"Serena, for me, is the GOAT. The GOAT of all GOATs. There will never be another Serena."