WIMBLEDON, England - Andrea Jaeger knows exactly what Coco Gauff is living. The WTA legend turned pro when she was 14-years-old and was No.2 in the world at 16-years-old, making two major finals by the time she was 18-years-old. The life of a teenage tennis prodigy is not easy, but it's an experience few women in this world can relate to.
"I turned pro at 14 and worked my way through pre-qualifying to qualifying to main draws, and every single experience was a new one and fun and exciting," Jaeger said on the WTA Insider Podcast.
"I think when you're a kid and you love what you're doing everything is fascinating, and that's probably what's going on in her mind. Every time she steps on the tennis court it's record-breaking, and it's an amazing experience for her as a teenager and as a professional tennis player, she's doing things that most others won't ever be able to do. So it's great to see for women's tennis."
"She has a remarkable presence. Her game is extraordinary as well. There are certainly advantages she's had, training at an academy, getting a wildcard into Wimbledon qualifying. Some people work their whole life to get into Wimbledon qualifying and never make it. So there's definitely something that's happening right. She's certainly going to be someone who's going to be a force in women's tennis and a role model. I've seen some interviews with her parents and they seem really well adjusted.
"I know my parents wished there would have been a manual: How do you raise a child prodigy?"
Hear Andrea Jaeger's full interview on the WTA Insider Podcast below:
Jaeger is back at Wimbledon to play the Legends event with another former teenage phenom, Tracy Austin, and has used her time during the tournament to further her charitable efforts as well.
"Whenever I go to any city in the world I try to make a difference to those children in that community."
Jaeger's foundation, The Little Star Foundation, has launched its first Global Art Competition, which invites art entries from all over the world, encouraging young artists to focus their skill & creativity on a theme of Kindness while raising funds to support Little Star Foundation efforts in helping children, families & communities in need.
"Right now the world is a very different world and it needs more kindness," Jaeger said. "It needs people who are really hurting and suffering or having a problem, that others are out there thinking of you and sending you energy, love, hope and kindness. So the whole theme of the Little Star Global Art Competition is kindness.
"Through my prize money and other people helping, we're sponsoring kids all around the world. We still need more sponsors. There are 220 major US hospital, so we want to cover US hospitals, international hospitals, orphanages and schools."
After a phenomenal young career that saw her make the 1982 Roland Garros final, 1983 Wimbledon final and semifinals at the Australian Open and US Open, Jaeger retired in 1987 and has since dedicated her life to charitable and philanthropic work.
"For me, giving back was always number one," Jaeger said. "If I could have played pro tennis and done charity work all the time, I would have done it."
"We have a year-around sport, we don't have an off-season. So it's a very busy, very intense time for people. I turned pro at 14. I was No.2 in the world at 16. I attended normal high school, so I took my homework on the road. But for me, it was how do you give back to these communities that are so good to you. I hope people reflect on that, because fans are what propel any sport."
"For me it was a little bit more natural because I always wanted to help others. I think I had a gift for service rather than of individual athlete. So I think it was difficult for me to have that killer instinct in an individual sport."