With the exception of Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from competition last week due to mental health issues, and Roger Federer withdrawing on Sunday after a grinding four-set win on Saturday to give his surgically repaired knees some much needed rest, it’s been a relatively uneventful French Open.
The quietness has not overshadowed the participation of the top five Black women tennis players in the world at the tournament. Along with Osaka, Serena Williams, Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys and the youngest of the group, Coco Gauff, all took to the courts. But Gauff was the only one still standing heading into the quarterfinals.
Gauff, who turned 17 in March and entered the French Open as its 24th seed on the women’s side, was victorious on Monday in her fourth round match, defeating Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, 6-3, 6-1, in 53 minutes. It moved the Atlanta, Georgia native into her first ever Grand Slam quarterfinals yesterday (Wednesday), as she faced unseeded Barbora Krejčíková, a 25-year-old from the Czech Republic.
“This has been the most consistent tennis I have played at this level,” said Gauff. “Hopefully I can keep that going.” The right-handed Gauff is currently the youngest player to be ranked in the top 100 by the Women’s Tennis Association. She’s also preparing to play with the U.S. Olympic team.
Gauff rose to prominence by defeating tennis great Venus Williams in the opening round of Wimbledon in 2019. Since that career-changing victory, which propelled her to the fourth round, Gauff has reached the third round of the U.S. Open that year, and the fourth round of last year’s Australian Open.
Serena Williams, the French Open’s 7th seed, who will turn 40 in September, was defeated by Elena Rybakina, the 21st seed, in the fourth round on Sunday. Williams has 23 Grand Slam titles, one behind the all-time women’s leader Margaret Court.
The 28-year-old unseeded Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open winner, was also defeated in the fourth round, losing 6-2, 6-0 to Krejčíková on Monday. Keys, 26, seeded 23rd, was defeated in the third round 6-2, 6-2 by 15th seed Victoria Azarenka from Belarus.