Cori “Coco” Gauff has enjoyed quite the fortnight.
After becoming the youngest player in the Open era to advance through qualifying to reach Wimbledon, the American took the tennis world by storm.
A fairytale run, which started with a win against her idol Venus Williams, raised the 15-year-old’s profile to stratospheric levels and established her as a household name.
It took former world No.1 Simona Halep to finally bring the youngster back down to earth Monday.
“It’s been really crazy, I’m getting recognized in the restaurants and on the street,” she told CNN New Day’s John Berman, reflecting on her incredible journey.
“I never thought this would happen. I dreamed of always playing Wimbledon and the other grand slams but I never dreamed of people actually recognizing me.”
Being recognized is something Gauff is going to have to get used to.
Her accomplishments have transcended the sport and the teenager has amassed a cult following of A-list celebrity stars – including NBA legend Magic Johnson, artist Jaden Smith and former first lady Michelle Obama, her favorite fan to date.
But it’s praise from within her profession which seems to have had the biggest impact on the precocious youngster.
Seven-time champion Serena Williams applauded Gauff for her incredible run, saying the teenager is on a “different level.”
“That’s really surprising and shocking, when your idol even knows you exist that’s pretty crazy,” Gauff blushed.
“Serena is at the highest level and always at the top of her game. So for her to say I’m at a different level is surreal.”
‘Always dream big’
Looking back, Gauff says beating Venus was the highlight of her breakthrough Wimbledon but insists her attention has now turned to the US Open.
The youngster is excited to play in her home grand slam, and believes she has the ability to win the tournament.
“It’s a special place to me because I’ve been going there and watching the tournament since I was eight years old,” she said.
Forever humble, Gauff knows she needs to improve her entire game in order to become a champion but insists she will continue to work hard to achieve her lofty ambitions.
“Always dream big and don’t let anyone limit your dreams because the possibilities are endless,” Gauff said, in a message to other youngsters.
“If you can think it, you can do it. If you can dream it, you can do it. Just keep working hard. It won’t come easy and it will seem impossible but if you keep working hard it will definitely happen.”
Just like the Williams sisters, Gauff has showed early signs that she will use her fame for social good.
Her incredible run coincided with the US Women’s soccer team’s triumphant World Cup in France, and Gauff is keen for them to get the recognition they deserve.
“I was so happy for them,” she said, admitting to missing some of the final in order to attend practice at Wimbledon.
“Those ladies have really fought there way and I hope that one day they can achieve equal pay. In tennis, we are very deserving of equal pay […] and I believe that it should be like that in every sport.”