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Three Things To Know About The Making Of “ESPN Cover Story: Coco Gauff”

Senior writer Alyssa Roenigk discusses profiling tennis phenom Gauff, who at 18 might be poised to make a big splash at the US Open the next two weeks

In 2018, tennis star Coco Gauff won her first junior Grand Slam title. She became the youngest junior girl’s No. 1 in history. Then, in the first round at Wimbledon, she got the draw of her dreams against her idol, Venus Williams, and won. She was on the map in a big way.

At 18, Gauff is approaching the next stage in her career and reaching for greatness on her terms.

In this month’s ESPN Cover Story, senior writer Alyssa Roenigk explores Gauff’s new perspective on success and rise in professional tennis.

Coco Gauff (Mary Beth Koeth for ESPN)

Editor’s Note: “ESPN Cover Story: Coco Gauff” makes its SportsCenter debut today. Hear more from Roenigk on next Monday’s ESPN Daily Podcast. More on ESPN’s US Open coverage.

On how the story came together:

Stacey Pressman (Director, Talent Production) had been in discussions with Coco’s team for more than two years about our desire to feature her for Cover Story. After Coco made her first Grand Slam final at the French Open, her team agreed this was a great time to tell her story.

We met Coco and her family at their home in Delray Beach, Fla., after returning from Wimbledon. We spent a day at her practice facility and home for the written piece and TV interviews.

I am lucky to work with brilliant editors and producers: Elaine Teng, Blake Foeman, and Ericka Goodman-Hughey are the shimmer behind both pieces.

On favorite moments that didn’t make the piece::
I loved the moments that reminded me she is 18. During interviews, Coco speaks with such poise and maturity, it’s easy to forget she graduated from high school two months ago.

Two fun conversations that didn’t make the final: I was with her on a Monday, and we talked about her Friday night, when she took her brothers bowling and to dinner.

“I do not know how people eat and bowl, like at the same place,” she said. “Sticking your fingers in that bowling ball and then grabbing food. Ugh. Or wear bowling shoes without socks. So gross.”

Coco’s little brother, Cameron, came to the shoot. Both of her brothers are incredible athletes, too, so I asked Cameron to name the best athlete in the Gauff family.

“Me, obviously,” he said. “Because, I’m good at many sports. Coco only plays one.”

On takeaways for Cover Story’s audience:
We should keep our timelines to ourselves and watch a young athlete’s story unfold instead of adding the pressure of our expectations to their experience.


ESPN senior writer Alyssa Roenigk (R) interviews tennis superstar Coco Gauff. (Alyssa Roenigk/ESPN)

Elaine Teng, ESPN senior editor, Investigative and Enterprise: “I worked with Alyssa on shaping the digital story, from conception all the way to the final line edits. I also coordinated with Stacey, Blake, our photo and social teams, and all the other wonderful teammates who help bring Cover Story to life. We tell a lot of stories about emerging talents like Coco, but I enjoyed helping to bring her personality and individuality to the fore.”

Alyssa Roenigk (C) is flanked by Coco Gauff to her immediate left and ESPN’s Cover Story crew. (Alyssa Roenigk/ESPN)

For more on ESPN Cover Story, visit ESPN Press Room

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