Coming into this Wimbledon fortnight, Coco Gauff had spent more than 18 hours on the court in Grand Slam singles matches, more than any woman outside of Zheng Qinwen.

On Monday, playing with extreme purpose, Gauff concluded her Centre Court match in a mere 65 minutes, defeating fellow American Caroline Dolehide 6-1, 6-2. At one point, she won eight straight games.

“I’m really happy that I was able to get through today,” Gauff said in her on-court interview. “I’m a little bit emotional but it’s been a long year.”

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It was the first time she stepped on the court to play singles at Wimbledon since her alarmingly abbreviated appearance nearly a year ago.

Then ranked No.7 in the world, Gauff lost her first-round match to qualifier and No.128-ranked Sofia Kenin. The score was 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 and, after years of dizzying progress, this felt like a massive setback for the 19-year-old.

“Oh, man, I wish a year ago, me after that match could see me now,” Gauff told reporters last week. “That was a tough moment for me. I think the first two, three weeks after that, I was really in a dark place."

For an ascendant player who had advanced to the French Open final the year before and reached the fourth round at Wimbledon twice -- for the first time at the age of 15 exactly five years ago -- it was a humbling moment.

“It was tough for me to realize I have so much time,” Gauff said. “When that happens you just feel the weight of everything on you.”

In retrospect, that loss had a galvanizing effect on Gauff. Realizing she had been too passive in the moments that mattered against Kenin, Gauff made the decision to go for it. She won 18 of her next 19 matches and three titles -- the WTA 500 in Washington D.C., Cincinnati’s WTA 1000, and her first major, the US Open. All of this, while still a teenager.

Almost before our eyes, she grew into her mind and body, delivering on her great promise, earlier than anyone -- with the possible exception of Coco Gauff -- could have imagined.

She’s kept the momentum going this year, reaching the semifinals of the season’s first two majors, in Melbourne and Paris, as well as in Indian Wells and Rome. Gauff currently stands at a career-high No.2 ranking. She has now posted a record of 57-13 since that loss here a year ago.

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On Monday, Gauff was fairly flawless against Dolehide. Both players hit a lot of great, thumping forehands, but the difference was movement. Gauff was by far the more mobile athlete and that advantage eventually opened up the court.

Gauff, who has converted break-point opportunities better than any player with 40 or more chances in this year’s Grand Slams, managed to do it six times against Dolehide.

Gauff’s serve was spiffy; she won 26 of 34 service points and popped one at 124 miles per hour. Regarding double faults, that window to a nervous soul, there was only one.

"I definitely do feel a lot more relaxed going in now getting through," Gauff said. "I think the first round is always the most difficult hump in the tournament, especially when you're a favorite coming in or like a top seed. I am happy to get through that hump."

Gauff’s path to the final here grew considerably easier Monday when three seeded players in her half of the draw withdrew. No.3 Aryna Sabalenka, who she wouldn’t have met until the semifinals, pulled out with a shoulder injury as did No.16 Victoria Azarenka, a potential fourth-round opponent. No.22 Ekaterina Alexandrova withdrew due to an illness. All three were replaced by lucky losers. Additionally, No.8 seed Zheng was upset by New Zealand qualifier Lulu Sun.

Gauff plays another qualifier in a second-round match Wednesday. Anca Todoni, a 19-year-old from Romania, defeated lucky loser Olga Danilovic 7-5, 6-1. 

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“I think I’ve just grown a lot,” Gauff said. “I’m glad I used that moment to just strive to get better. I still know I’m nowhere near where I can be. I think that experience taught me that a bad moment doesn't last forever.

“That part of the season was tough, then the next part of the season was the best I’ve ever had. That just shows bad moments don’t last forever. I’m really relaxed going into this year. I did not have a great Wimbledon last year. It’s like it couldn’t get any worse, it can only get better.”