Welcome to Wimbledon Flashbacks, where wtatennis.com will take a look back at some of the most memorable narratives from The Championships over the past 20 years. After recapping Birmingham's best battles and excellent Eastbourne encounters, our retrospective heads to the lawns of SW19. Next up is Coco Gauff's thrilling ride from the qualifying rounds to superstardom in 2019.

For more classic moments, check out our other Wimbledon Flashbacks:
1999: Qualifier Dokic dispatches top seed Hingis in first-round stunner
2003: Navratilova shows her class at 46 to win title 20 alongside Paes

THE MOMENT: Over the course of an intoxicating fortnight at Wimbledon 2019, Coco Gauff exploded into the mainstream public consciousness. From playing in front of a handful of curious onlookers in a field in Roehampton to captivating 5.2 million viewers - the peak TV audience of the tournament - less than two weeks later, the 15-year-old's profile snowballed round by round with dizzying speed.

The American had been pegged as one to watch by tennis insiders for some years already, and with the 2018 Roland Garros girls' title followed in 2019 by encouraging steps into the pros - a first WTA main draw win in Miami, a maiden Grand Slam qualifying win at Roland Garros - her results were beginning to back up the talk. But what was Gauff ready for?


As a wildcard into qualifying ranked World No.301, Gauff had increasingly impressive answers to that question. She began by dispatching No.1 seed Aliona Bolsova, who was fresh off making the Roland Garros fourth round, 6-3, 6-4 to become the youngest player since Martina Hingis in 1995 to defeat a Top 100 opponent at a major, and went from strength to strength. A 6-2, 6-3 win over Valentyna Ivakhnenko was followed by an impressive 6-1, 6-1 scoreline against the rising Belgian World No.128 Greet Minnen. The cool head and flawless shot selection Gauff displayed on court to become Wimbledon's youngest ever qualifier was matched by her aplomb in a makeshift press conference as she spoke about both her reasons for loving tennis to vital social issues to the small group of journalists who had made it down to the Bank of England Sports Centre in Roehampton.

Read more: 'I like tennis because you can only control yourself': Getting to know Wimbledon 2019 debutantes Gauff, McNally and Flink

There, Gauff had laughed that it would be a "dream" to be drawn against one of the Williams sisters, her icons growing up, in the main draw - so when she was then pitted against 39-year-old Venus, it was an irresistible narrative for the media. The youngest player in the draw against the oldest; a teenager who had unhesitatingly told the world's press of her ambition to be "the greatest", against a seven-time Grand Slam champion who had long earned the label of legend.


But if many were looking forward more to a curiosity than a contest, Gauff wasn't one of them. The murmurings on No.1 Court grew louder as she held her own against Venus through the first few games; louder still as she captured the first break and closed out the set without facing a break point; and exploded into a roar as she held firm to fend off a second-set Venus fightback to close out an astonishing triumph by winning the two longest games of the match.

As Venus's forehand found the net down a fourth match point, Gauff raised her hands to her head in celebration - and a star was born.

Read more: Gauff revisits Venus stunner: 'It was the start of everything'

If anything, the manner in which Gauff backed up her Venus victory was even more impressive. Each of her three main draw wins en route to reaching the fourth round of her maiden Grand Slam presented a uniquely different challenge. Against Venus, the teenager had needed to do battle against a venerable reputation on her show court debut; against Magdalena Rybarikova in the second round, she had to overcome the trickiness of a wily grass-courter while guarding against any let-down on her own end, doing so with an efficient 6-3, 6-3 win.

But it was Gauff's performance in the third round which set an early template for what has since become a signature comeback. Outplayed by an on-form Polona Hercog for a set and a half, Gauff's was able to cling on to the scoreboard by her fingernails, doggedly hanging in marathon slice-heavy points as the Slovenian went into her shell - an absolute refusal to love that ultimately netted her a 3-6, 7-6(7), 7-5 triumph after saving two match points and, at primetime on a Saturday evening, the BBC's best TV viewing figures for the fortnight.

2019 Wimbledon Match of Week 1: Gauff's epic comeback

THE MEANING: Gauff ultimately departed Wimbledon with her head high after a 6-3, 6-3 loss to eventual champion Simona Halep in the fourth round - and has since gone on not only to back up the form she showed this fortnight but to exceed it. Turning the tables after initially getting dominated has become a pattern, particularly on Grand Slam show courts where Gauff's ability to utilize the atmosphere to her advantage shones through: there were echoes of the Hercog win as she came back to beat Anastasia Potapova 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 at the US Open and Sorana Cirstea 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 at the Australian Open.

The teenager's star also thrived off court: her return home was greeted by a wave of 'Gauffmania', with the Citi Open in Washington, DC and the US Open thronged by her new fans. One of those, much to her delight, was long-time inspiration Michelle Obama, who presented Gauff with a signed copy of the former First Lady of the United States' autobiography, Becoming.


But away from the amped-up circus of the major stage and far from her American home courts, Gauff has also been able to excel. Last October, the indoor courts of Linz played host to her maiden title run - one which saw her get better and better as the tournament drew on.

Competing as a lucky loser after falling to Tamara Korpatsch in qualifying, then benefiting in the second round after Kateryna Kozlova suffered a leg injury up a set and a break, Gauff made the most of her lifelines to capture a maiden Top 10 win over Kiki Bertens in the quarterfinals before coming out on top of a stellar final against Jelena Ostapenko to become the youngest WTA titlist since Nicole Vaidisova at Vancouver 2004.


This season began with Gauff adding the art of revenge to her steep learning curve. Having been ruthlessly dismissed 6-3, 6-0 by Naomi Osaka in the third round of the US Open, the American was ready to exorcise that memory at the same stage of the Australian Open in January. This time, Gauff's defence was able to effectively blunt the defending champion's power - while the increased efficiency of her serve was also notable - as she ran out a 6-3, 6-4 victory, her last before the coronavirus pandemic put professional tennis on pause.

Gauff has remained in the public spotlight in the absence of tournaments, though. Demonstrating her commitment to using her platform to speak up for important issues, she has been a voice in the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, highlighted by a passionate speech at a protest in her home town of Delray Beach.