American tennis ace Coco Gauff has praised Serena Williams for the legacy she has left on the sport after the 40-year-old announced her retirement after the US Open.
On Tuesday, Williams confirmed she would play her last tournament at her home grand slam later this month in a brutal blow to tennis.
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The decision sent shockwaves through the tennis community.
Naomi Osaka was quick to announce her sorrow at the news Williams was leaving the sport.
And 18-year-old sensation Gauff has also hailed the impact Williams has left on the game.
Gauff is World No.11 and is the highest ranked American on the WTA Tour.
At 18 years old, she is yet to play Williams despite her incredible rise.
But, the teenager was quick to praise Williams as the greatest of all time in her Canadian Open press conference having grown up watching her.
“She’s just been playing forever, my whole life,” Gauff said in Toronto.
“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.”
Coco Gauff praises influence of Serena and Venus Williams
Gauff went on to praise both Serena and Venus Williams and how they handled the spotlight as two of the greatest players ever to grace the game.
“I’ve learned a lot from them [Serena and her older sister Venus]. People always tell me that you’re going to be next whatever blah blah blah and Serena has been considered the GOAT for at least the second half of her career and she never succumbed to that pressure," Gauff added.
“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.”
Williams confirmed the sad news she would retire in an article written for Vogue magazine, saying she will finish her career later this month at the US Open.
Williams has won six US Open titles and will go out in front of an adoring home crowd.
"I have never liked the word retirement," she wrote.
"Maybe the best word to describe what I'm up to is evolution. I'm here to tell you that I'm evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.
"A few years ago I quietly started Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm. Soon after that, I started a family. I want to grow that family."
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