One of tennis’ brightest young stars Coco Gauff is relishing her opportunity to play alongside the world’s richest tennis player, Jessica Pegula. Gauff, 19, plays doubles with her compatriot and world No. 3, Pegula and they claimed their first title together 12 months ago in Doha.
The American duo have since emerged as one of the premier doubles teams on the WTA Tour. Last season, they won two WTA 1000 titles and made their first major final at Roland Garros.
Gauff and Pegula also became the first duo to qualify for the WTA Finals in both singles and doubles since Serena and Venus Williams in 2009, when they appeared at the season-ending event last year. They claimed their fourth trophy together by successfully defending their Doha title last month, defeating Lyudmyla Kichenok and Jelena Ostapenko 6-4, 2-6, 10-7.
The mutual admiration and respect is clear to see and both players have shared kind words about each other in recent times. And in a post-match press conference at the ongoing Indian Wells Masters, Gauff revealed what her doubles pal is like behind the scenes.
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“As a person, Jess is probably one of the best out there, I think, especially where she comes from. Not that you should, but she could just tell everyone, like, ‘F*** off’,” said Gauff, who also describes Pegula like an ‘older sister’.
“She’s one of the nicest people ever. She’s older than me. You know, she deals with all my antics when I try and say certain things. She’s like my on-tour older sister in a way. I’m grateful that I can be our doubles partner, and we have created that relationship.
“I’m glad that she said some great things about me, because I definitely feel the same way about her.” The pair’s strong relationship both on and off the court has certainly contributed to their successful doubles partnership. Last week, Pegula praised Gauff’s balanced and mature attitude, and credited her parents for their roles in her career.
“I think she has a really good head on her shoulders. It’s definitely not life or death with her for tennis,” she said. “I think she has a good balance of everything else with her family off the court, she likes to have fun with everything she does.
“But I think she’s definitely really close with her family, which I think keeps her very grounded and with her siblings and stuff like that.” She added: “Then she’s kind of the star on the court. So it’s cool to see how she’s balanced it a lot at such a young age. I would say credit to her parents for helping her with that.”
The pair have a busy week ahead in Indian Wells after reaching the fourth round of both the doubles and singles competitions. They are set to face Miyu Kato and Aldila Sutjiadi up next, while Gauff will play Rebecca Peterson in the solo event and Pegula faces a tough battle against two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.