Wimbledon 2019: The Moment When It Looked Like Coco Gauff Wo
Of course it did. This was not the first match point that Gauff had saved during the tournament. (In her third-round match against Polona Hercog, Gauff had faced two match points.) Nor would it be the last. A point later, Halep sent a return barely wide.
For a brief moment, it did not seem possible that Gauff could lose the match—or any match, ever. Over the course of a week, millions of people, not only in the United States but all over the world, had tuned in to watch Gauff, and very, very few of them had ever seen her be defeated. Gauff had never lost a match in the main draw of Wimbledon. Winning was all she had ever done.
Of course, it made sense to expect that, facing a fifteen-year-old, Halep would benefit from her years of experience—and, in the end, they surely helped. But experience can be double-edged, as Halep understands. In June, Halep was knocked out of the quarterfinals of the French Open by a seventeen-year-old, Amanda Anisimova. Two years before, she lost in the French Open final, to Jelena Ostapenko, an unseeded twenty-year-old who swung freely, almost innocently, as if she wasn’t aware of how rare these chances are and how painful it would be to lose. Halep knew.
And now, in a way, Gauff knows, too. As she left the court, the crowd stood to cheer for her. No one could feel anything but admiration for the way she had played, not only against Halep but throughout her improbable run. But she could not hide her own disappointment. Her smile was gone.