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U.S. tennis star Coco Gauff says she considered hiatus due to depression

U.S. tennis star Coco Gauff says she considered hiatus due to depression
U.S. tennis star Coco Gauff reacts during a change over in the 3rd round of the 2019 U.S. Open Tennis Championships at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City on August 31, 2019. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

April 16 (UPI) -- American teenage tennis star Cori "Coco" Gauff said she considered taking a year off from the sport during a bout of depression before her meteoric rise in the rankings.

Coco, 16, wrote about her personal struggles in a post Thursday on Behind the Racquet. The Delray Beach, Fla., native said she considered the tennis hiatus just before her run to the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2019, which included an upset over Venus Williams that vaulted her popularity to a new level.

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This year, Coco became the first 15 year old in 15 years to break into the top 50 of the Women's Tennis Association world rankings. The tennis phenom said she has "always been the youngest to do things," but those achievements have added hype that she "didn't want."

"It added this pressure that I needed to do well fast," Coco wrote. "Right before Wimbledon, going back to around 2017-2018, I was struggling to figure out if this was really what I wanted. I always had the results, so that wasn't the issue. I just found myself not enjoying what I loved.

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"I realized I needed to start playing for myself and not other people. For about a year, I was really depressed. That was the toughest year for me so far."

Coco ranked No. 948 in the world in July 2018 and climbed to No. 141 after the 2019 Wimbledon Championships. She was No. 49 after the Australian Open in January and now sits at No. 52.

"It went so far that I was thinking about possibly taking a year off to just focus on life," Coco said of her depression. "Choosing not to obviously was the right choice but I was close to not going in that direction. I was just lost.

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"I was confused and overthinking if this was what I wanted or what others did. It took many moments sitting, thinking and crying. I came out of it stronger and knowing myself better than ever.

"Everyone asks me how I stay calm on court and I think it's because I accepted who I am after overcoming low points in my life. Now, when I'm on court, I am just really thankful to be out there."

The tennis season has been suspended until at least mid-July due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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