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American teenage phenom Coco Gauff turns 16 today

Mar 13, 2020, 2:59 PM | Article By: Lamin Drammeh, The Point’s former Sports Editor

It's been a phenomenal year of success story for American teenage phenom, Coco Gauff.

The 15-year-old made headlines around the world by reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon. She is the ultimate competitor, who, despite her teenage age could compete with the biggest names in the game of tennis. She made the biggest headlines of the entire tournament when she defeated her childhood idol and five-time grand slam winner Venus Williams in her debut appearance in the group stage, earning worldwide recognition for her historic landmark accomplishment,  competing in her first major tournament in her debut major slam.

She became the youngest woman to reach the second week of a major tournament since 1996 and the youngest qualifier in the open era.

Gauff, four months after defeating Venus WillIams at Wimbledon, captivated the tennis world once again as she won her first title in Linz, Austria. She became the youngest WTA champion since 2004, paving the way to break the top 100 record and climbed No: 68 by the time the WTA's year-end rankings came out in November. She broke another world record recently when WTA placed the teen’s sensation No. 49 in the women's rankings, making Coco one of the top 50 players on tour throughout the world.

Even more remarkably, Gauff achieved all of this while playing a limited schedule as per the WTA's age eligibility rule, which helps protect players under 18 from playing too much and burning out.

Coco, is few more years away from her 18th birthday which will not come until 2022, which is when players are allowed to play an unlimited amount of tournaments.

But now that she is 16, the amount of tournaments Coco can play is reset. As a 16-year-old between March 13, 2020 and March 13, 2021, Gauff will be able to play up to 16 tournaments, which includes her merited increases. In addition to that, she could play the Olympics or the WTA Finals if she qualifies, as well as any Fed Cup ties she's selected for throughout the 12- month period.

"This year was such an incredible year and I achieved so many of the goals that I had set for myself. Wimbledon was obviously a highlight, as was capturing my first WTA title," Gauff was quoted as saying by reporters. However, I have a number of goals and things that I am working on in my game, and I can't wait to see how much I can improve in my next couple of tournaments."

Coco reached the fourth round at the Australian Open and in doing so, defeated former world No.1 and two-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka in straight set. She lost to Sofia Kenin in the fourth round which comes six months after she reached the third round of U.S. Open, becoming the youngest player to reach the round of 32, at Flushing Meadows since Anna Kourinkova's run to the round of 16 in 1996. Coco's rapid rise to stardom has been the best tennis story of recent history