Tennis Phenom Coco Gauff is set to get two French Open titles and big money

Tennis Phenom Coco Gauff is set to get two French Open titles and big money

Comparisons to Serena Williams started early for Coco Gauff, who won a national tennis tournament aged 8 and became the world’s No. 1 junior player aged 14. By the time she beat Venus Williams in the first round at Wimbledon in 2019 and became the youngest player to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam since 1996 – she was regularly labeled as the future of tennis.

This future may have arrived.

Gauff, now 18, will play for the French Open women’s singles title in Saturday’s final against top-ranked Iga Swiatek, herself a phenom at just 21. The following day, Gauff will take to the court alongside fellow American Jessica Pegula in the women’s doubles final. against Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic.

A win on Saturday would secure $2.4 million for Gauff, who hasn’t lost a singles set at Roland Garros and is seeking his first major title; she and Pegula would split an additional $620,000 with a victory on Sunday. Even if she loses both games, those prizes will be $1.2 million and $310,000 before taxes.

It’s a pretty impressive run for a player who just graduated from high school. But Gauff is already making money, with $3.2 million in career prize money since turning pro in 2018. And she’s set to earn a whole lot more.

off the field, Forbes estimates she earns at least $4 million a year before taxes and agent fees from sponsors, including New Balance apparel, Head tennis racquets and Barilla pasta. Over the past three months, it has unveiled partnerships with retailer American Eagle and Autograph, the NFT company co-founded by Tom Brady.

Brands came claiming early, hoping lock up a player who followed her success at the junior level by becoming the youngest singles champion on the WTA Tour since 2004 at the age of 15 and is now the youngest player in the WTA top 100, ranked 23rd. In 2019, Forbes reported that Gauff was already making $1 million from endorsements when she was 15.

But her agent, Team8’s Alessandro Barel Di Sant Albano, and her parents – father Corey, who coaches her, and mother Candi, who homeschooled her – turned down many of the opportunities that came their way, adopting a long-term approach to Gauff’s career on and off the pitch. Deals with high-profile brands like Rolex and Microsoft made sense after her escape in 2019, but care is taken not to over-market Gauff at this young age or add to the pressure she has admitted to feeling. a post 2020 for behind the racket. She is focused on tennis and her newly bolstered playing schedule, now that she is 18 and no longer subject to WTA restrictions on the number of tournaments young players can enter each year.

Even with these limitations, she is already knocking on the door of the highest paid female athletes in the world, with the top ten threshold set at $5.7 million last year by WNBA star Candace Parker. And Gauff’s ceiling is much higher, especially since the highest-paid female athlete in the world has been playing tennis every year since. Forbes started tracking data in 1990.

For starters, sponsorship deals in tennis usually come with performance incentives on top of base guarantees, so Gauff could unlock substantial bonuses by winning her first Grand Slam or moving up the rankings. And when she starts to expand her business, pay attention. Her endearing personality should appeal to brands, and she has the advantage of being American. That means a large base of sponsors ready to lend their support to homegrown talent, especially with Serena Williams nearing the end of her career at 40 and the American men still in the hunt for their first Grand Slam singles title. since Andy Roddick won the 2003 US Open.

Gauff used his Open de France platform to call for the end of gun violence, and this advocacy could make it even more attractive to brands. “Social awareness was probably the sixth or seventh most important issue for brands a year or two ago; now it’s first or second,” veteran marketing consultant Joe Favorito Told Forbes Last year after Naomi Osaka spoke out on mental health and racial justice issues.

Osaka, 24, a four-time major winner with lucrative ties to Japan, is the highest-paid female athlete of all time and earned an estimated $59.2 million in the 12 months ending May 1, se ranking 19th on Forbes’ annual list of highest paid athletes in the world. Williams, who has won a record 23 Grand Slam singles titles, was #31 with an estimated amount of $45.3 million.

If for no other reason than the inherent uncertainty of the sport, the odds are stacked against Gauff to catch either. But the young ace has exceeded expectations at every turn, and she has a chance for another upset on Saturday against the heavily favored Swiatek.

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