One year removed from the victory that heralded her arrival as an international sensation, American teenager Coco Gauff reflected on last summer's Wimbledon to remember.
In an hour-long special with ESPN broadcaster Chris Fowler from her home tennis club at the Delray Beach Tennis Center in Florida, broadcast on Monday night as a part of the network's celebration of the best in women's sports, Gauff retraced every step of her first round victory over Venus Williams, and what she's learned since that fateful fortnight.
With Wimbledon canceled for the first time since World War II as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the story that unfolded last summer is now also one for tennis history: ranked World No.313 entering the tournament, Gauff was awarded a wildcard into qualifying, and after three victories, became the youngest player to reach the main draw at the All-England Club via qualifying in the Open Era.
"I think my dad didn't tell me [about the wildcard] until either a couple of hours or a day later," Gauff began. "Obviously, I was really excited and I didn't know what to expect. I feel like Wimbledon is one of those Slams that you can't really prepare for because it's so unique and prestigious, so we hopped on a plane, and then next thing I knew, we were in London."
And the teenager's Cinderella run to the round of 16, which captivated not only the British public both in attendance and watching at home but the sporting world at large, began with an opening-round victory over one of her self-professed idols on July 1, 2019.
"I was just going to take the opportunity... I didn't have anything to lose," she continued, "and I kind of played like that. I think that was the perfect moment to play her, for my first main draw, debut."
The American teenager commentated through her victory over the seven-time Grand Slam champion beginning even before first ball, starting with exclusive footage of their walk through the tunnel from the locker room and her last pre-match moment with her father and coach, Corey.
"We'd actually practiced the walk the previous day, but the stadium was empty, " Gauff revealed. "My dad has always kissed me before my matches ever since I was little, and he always says, 'I love you,' and 'Have fun.'"
She also offered candid insight into her emotional state as the two players arrive on the hallowed No.1 Court and took part in the typical pre-match pleasantries.
"I didn't want her to think that her presence startled me. I knew at this moment [arriving for the match] that I wasn't going to be the one intimidating her," she said.
"I didn't want to make eye contact with her [at the coin toss], so I was looking at the umpire the whole time and shaking off my nerves, but also, I got to see that I was playing one of the greatest players of all-time across the net. You can see me just trying to get all the nerves out before we started hitting.
"Normally, I'm not so nervous at the coin toss, but in this situation, I was nervous during this. You could tell that she's been in this moment a hundred times, that whatever you're doing isn't going to phase her.
"I think throughout the warmup, I think I was just trying to get used to the environment, because it was my first time on a stage so big... but you're not really comfortable until you win a game. I didn't want to shank the first ball."
As the tape rolled, Gauff also analyzed the match from a tactical perspective, sharing the game plan that not only allowed her to earn the grass court victory, but helped her to repeat the result in January at the Australian Open.
"I was feeling good, and it was like, 'I can't believe I'm serving for the first set!' I immediately forgot about the first set, because my dad always tells me that the second set is the most important set because you either win it to stay in the match or you win it to finish the match.
"In this case, I wanted to finish the match, so I was focused on that... but because of what happened in the first set, I knew I had the ability to break how, how to break her, and it was all about when. I knew that when I had second serves, I had to take advantage of that.
"I knew that if I needed to go power-to-power with her, I could, but I knew that was not the way I wanted to play. I had to change up the variation, because she's used to the grass and I'm not, and I was going to try to use it to my advantage as best as I could. I knew that slicing, bringing her in, making her hit balls at uncomfortable heights was going to be the way to make her [hit] some errors.
"I felt like I was really comfortable with the atmosphere, with the surface and with the way I was playing... and I was also comfortable with the fact that if it had to go three [sets], I would be able to win it."
Ultimately, Gauff wrapped up a 6-4, 6-4 victory on her fourth match point in a titanic service game - and kept some unhappy memories at bay to do so.
"In Wimbledon juniors the year before this [in 2018], I had two match points [against Wang Xiyu in the quarterfinals] and ended up losing the match, but I wasn't thinking about that in this match," she said.
"But in this moment, I was panicking like, 'Oh, my god,' 'Oh, my god.' I didn't want to lose this game, because I didn't know how I was going to react... if I was going to be crushed or if I was going to come out of it strong.
"[On the fourth match point], honestly, I just told myself, 'Forget I have match point,' because thinking about match point didn't work for me the first three times."
With a third-round showing at the US Open, a maiden WTA singles title in Linz, Austria, two WTA doubles titles alongside compatriot Caty McNally and a Top 50 ranking among the accomplishments that have followed for her since, Gauff succinctly summarized her breakthrough moment.
"I didn't even realize how big of a deal this [match] was until months after it happened," Gauff said. "I still don't realize how big of a deal it is, even now, but I just remember how I was shaking after the match.
"I told myself I was going to celebrate until 12 a.m. that night, and then that it was a new day and I had to get ready for the next match. I had more things that I wanted to do and prove to people that this wasn't a one-time situation.
"I heard these people screaming my name, and that was really weird for me. You see these people that go viral overnight, whether it's through sports or through a meme, and you never think that you're going to be one of them. I guess I was one of them - actually, my mom was one of them, too, with her little waving GIF that went viral."
Happy Mother’s Day to my biggest supporter:) Love you mom❤️ pic.twitter.com/RSGJC62kN4— Coco Gauff (@CocoGauff) May 10, 2020
"It's just crazy how one thing can really change someone's life... it was the start of everything, and this is the match that I'll remember for the rest of my life," she concluded.
"I still don't get it. It's just crazy. I can't even wrap it up into a set amount of words, with everything that happened, and everything that's still happening because of this match."