PARIS -- Coco Gauff celebrated her high-school graduation the best way she knows how: by winning a match. The 18-year-old American kicked off her French Open campaign with a 7-5, 6-0 win against Canadian qualifier Rebecca Marino in the first round. She'll face Belgium's Alison Van Uytvanck in the second round.
On Saturday night, Gauff celebrated her graduation from Florida Virtual Flex with a trip to the Eiffel Tower, posing pictures in her cap and gown with her parents.
"For me, education and my family is very important," Gauff told reporters after her win. "Both my parents graduated college and my grandmothers are both teachers and I have a whole family really full of teachers.
"Finishing high school was important to me. I know on tour a lot of players don't always do that because you have tennis, but for me, tennis is what I do, but there are other interests that I have outside of tennis and definitely having knowledge on that can help me indulge in them more."
Ranked No.23, Gauff remains the youngest player in the Top 100. Gauff burst onto the scene at 2019 Wimbledon, where she successfully qualified for her first tour-level main draw at 15 and proceeded to make her way to the Round of 16. Two years later, she made her first Slam quarterfinal, which came here at Roland Garros last spring.
Gauff had understanding teachers who didn't have to do more than open a newspaper or turn on the TV to know their student wasn't slacking off from her homework.
"For me personally I get more mentally exhausted than physically [at Slams]," Gauff said. "Like physically, I can play 20 more matches. Mentally, I'm barely grinding through this.
"So I'm very thankful for them because that could have been a lot more stressful if they weren't as understanding, which they probably could have been more because there was a lot of weeks I went without submitting work. But I got it done."
Now free from her schoolwork, Gauff says she'll miss learning about history and literature, her two favorite subjects.
"I really enjoy writing and that's something I like doing," Gauff said. "History as well. World War I and World War II are probably my favorite things to learn about, especially with traveling the world you can kind of see where things happened."
What she won't miss? Crunching numbers and doing long division.
"My dad is a math guy," Gauff said. "He's like, 'You need to be good at math.' And I'm like, 'Dad, listen, that's just something that I'm not going to do.' There's a calculator for a reason and there are all these apps for a reason. If you want to figure it out on paper, you do it."
Gauff isn't the only player in the draw coming in fresh off a commencement ceremony. The Czech Republic's Marie Bouzkova skipped Rome to attend her college graduation at Indiana University East. The 23-year-old finished her degree in Business Administration through the WTA's program with IU East, which supports players who want to pursue a secondary education.
"I've enjoyed it a lot," Bouzkova said. "It gave me a different perspective on the world. Business is a fun subject to learn about, how everything works. I also took some fun classes as electives. I did drawing, I had a photography class, I did a music class."
Like Gauff, Bouzkova started her post-graduate life in winning form, defeating Anastasia Gasanova 6-2, 6-1 in the first round. She'll face No.31 seed Elise Mertens next.
I would like to thank @iueast and @WTA for providing the opportunity to complete my business degree completely online as it has been one of my life goals. It felt very special to spend the day on campus and also take part in the Commencement Ceremony. I am proud to be a Red Wolf! pic.twitter.com/qKaTUHcumi— Marie Bouzkova (@MarieBouzkova) May 14, 2022
Bouzkova has been looking forward to her graduation for months, even buying her dress for the ceremony last year.
"I'm really happy I made the trip," Boukova said. "Being there with 500 other students was really nice. I saw CiCi Bellis there, as well. I just really enjoyed it. It was really nice to see my teachers, as well, because I have never met them in person before, so just got a chance to talk to them a little bit.
"Just for me it was really special to have that sort of thing in my life. I think it was really important for me. Yeah, just felt like 100% student that day, with the gown and everything. It was just great."