The Citi Open added a marquee name to its list of players scheduled to take part in the tournament this year — and she’s only 15 years old.
Coco Gauff will appear at the District tournament this month, her first tennis appearance since her star-making run to the fourth round of Wimbledon. It is not yet clear, however, whether she will play competitively.
Gauff must wait to see if she gets a spot in the Citi Open qualifying tournament, which begins July 27, but she will be part of the week’s festivities in Northwest Washington regardless of whether she gains entry into the main draw. Gauff plans to practice on site at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center, participate in a fan event July 27, host a kids’ day July 28 and participate in a practice match held on Stadium Court.
Main draw action for the Citi Open will begin July 29 and run through Aug. 4.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be in front of American fans in our nation’s capital at the Citi Open,” Gauff said in a release. “The last few weeks have been amazing and I’m excited about coming to Washington, D.C., to connect with all the fans, especially the young kids, who have been giving me so much support this summer. Hopefully I will also have the opportunity to keep this momentum going on the court starting at the Citi Open straight through the U.S. Open.”
Gauff must enter the Citi Open through the qualifying tournament because of age restrictions on the Women’s Tennis Association tour.
As a 15-year-old player, she is eligible to compete in up to 14 WTA or International Tennis Federation Pro Circuit tournaments per year and can receive only three wild-card entries, which are awarded to players at the discretion of event organizers. Having already received three wild cards this year, Gauff cannot receive any more until her 16th birthday in March 2020.
The Citi Open qualifying draw will be finalized at 4 p.m. on July 26. Gauff’s acceptance depends on those ranked higher on the list of players hoping to gain entry to the tournament — if those players gain acceptance into other WTA or ITF Pro Circuits, then Gauff moves up the list. Because the entry list was finalized before Wimbledon, the teen is entered under her pre-Wimbledon ranking of No. 313.
Gauff has since moved up to No. 141.
“Coco’s story is a perfect fit with the history and mission of our tournament, and as potentially the next great American star, she also embodies our future and our reimagination of this storied tennis event,” Citi Open Manager Mark Ein said. “We hope she gets into the qualifying, but if not, we will provide our community and her fans a great opportunity to meet her and watch her play and practice as she prepares for the U.S. Open.”
Gauff burst onto the mainstream tennis scene this year when she became the youngest woman in the Open era to enter the Wimbledon main draw through qualifying, then beat her idol Venus Williams in the tournament’s first round. She was the youngest player since 1991 to reach the round of 16, where she lost to eventual champion Simona Halep.
Even before Wimbledon, Gauff has long been considered a player to watch. A Georgia native who now lives in Florida, she was a finalist at the girls’ U.S. Open tournament at age 13 in 2017 and won the French Open junior title last year.
She will join a host of up-and-comers and established pros at the Citi Open. Past U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens and U.S. Open finalist Madison Keys highlight the women’s tournament along with rising stars Sofia Kenin, Bianca Andreescu and Belinda Bencic.
In the men’s tournament, world No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 7 Kei Nishikori, No. 8 Karen Khachanov and No. 11 Kevin Anderson lead a field that also includes John Isner, past Citi Open champion Gael Monfils and local star Frances Tiafoe.