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Coco Gauff is quietly making her mark at the Australian Open, with a unique Grand Slam experience

Coco Gauff walks onto the court in the middle of the day. The stadium is half-full, if that.

So far, she mostly takes care of her main business in a little over an hour. A couple of television interviews follow her warm-down. Not much more than that. Sometimes there are just two or three journalists at her news conferences.

In the evening, she barely gets noticed while wandering the streets of Melbourne on her way to dinner, whether or not she’s wearing a baseball hat and sunglasses. “Definitely more chill,” Gauff said the other day about her experience in this tournament compared with the last Grand Slam she played, and won, at the U.S. Open in New York in September.

Remember those nights when Gauff would kick off the evening sessions with thrilling, nail-biting wins? Three of her first four matches went to three sets. Twice she lost the first set. The crowd of nearly 24,000 at Arthur Ashe Stadium would explode nearly every time she won a point and will her to victory. Coco Gauff has had less media scrutiny in Australia (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Then whatever boldface tennis name was conducting the on-court interview would hand over the microphone and let Gauff rile up the crowd with her version of the ‘stay tuned for Novak Djokovic’ message. Hundreds of players had entered the tournament. She owned it from start to finish, the 19-year-old debutante coming out as never before, celebrities seated courtside for her matches. Jimmy Butler. The Obamas. Her name on the lips of nearly everybody on the grounds of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Four months later, life could not be more different for Gauff in Melbourne, and not in the way that one might predict. Sure, she’s on some billboards. It’s been that way for four years now, since that breakout roll she got on at Wimbledon when she was just 15. Her game hasn’t changed much. She tweaked her serve slightly last month with some help from Andy Roddick, making the motion a little shorter and tossing the ball from a higher position, though it’s barely noticeable.


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