Gauff headlines US tennis team for Tokyo Games

17-year-old will lead her country to the Olympics, where for the first time in 25 years won't feature Serena Williams


AFP July 02, 2021

NEW YORK:

Teenager Coco Gauff, who powered into the third round at Wimbledon Thursday, headlines a new-look US tennis team for the Tokyo Olympics.

Gauff, 17, is one of a dozen Americans tennis players headed to Tokyo, where for the first time in 25 years Olympic tennis won't feature Serena and Venus Williams.

Joining Gauff in Tokyo will be Australian Open finalist Jennifer Brady, Jessica Pegula and Alison Riske in women's singles, and men's singles players Tommy Paul, Frances Tiafoe, Tennys Sandgren and Marcos Giron.

Gauff will play women's doubles with Nicole Melichar, while Pegula will team with Bethania Mattek-Sands.

For the men, Tiafoe will partner with Rajeev Ram, and Sandgren is paired with Austin Krajicek.

Mixed doubles teams will be named later from the same pool of players.

Announcement of the team came on the same day that Gauff beat Elena Vesnina in straight sets on Centre Court to reach the third round at Wimbledon.

She said after her first-round match, before the Olympic team was confirmed, that she had no hesitation in making herself available for the Games despite the restrictions imposed on athletes because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"That was one of the goals this year, was to qualify for the team. So, yeah, the decision was to always play if I was able to make the team," Gauff said.

"Especially my mom, she ran track. She didn't make the Olympics, but it was one of her dreams. She told me that I kind of accomplished that dream for her."

Serena Williams said on the eve of Wimbledon that she wouldn't play in Tokyo.

She declined to elaborate on her reasons, although a ban on foreign fans as well as family members at the Games would have meant being separated from her daughter Alexis Olympia.

The United States have won 39 medals, including 21 gold, in Olympic tennis. Venus and Serena Williams have won four gold medals each since making their Olympic debuts in 2000.

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