When Coco Gauff, fresh off her quarter-final victory at the French Open, was asked about her new attitude toward tennis, the Philippe-Chatrier crowd was enthralled by her response.
Gauff, who reached the fourth round of Wimbledon as a 15-year-old in 2019, has used this approach to reach her maiden Grand Slam semi-final.
On Thursday, the 18-year-old American will compete against Martina Trevisan of Italy for a place in the Roland Garros final.
Gauff first made an impression at Wimbledon, where she upset Venus Williams in her first main draw appearance at a Slam after qualifying.
During her run at SW19, which was interrupted by eventual champion Simona Halep, she garnered the attention of former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Emma Raducanu’s Wimbledon runs two years later prompted comparisons to Gauff, but whereas Raducanu has had an up-and-down season after winning the US Open, Gauff has risen through the rankings at a steady pace.
Three months after Wimbledon, she won her first WTA championship and finished the year in the top 100.
Gauff then reached the fourth round of the Australian Open in 2020, ending Naomi Osaka’s title defence, and broke into the top 20 a year later.
She is still in contention for the women’s doubles title, reached the quarter-finals of the French Open last year and has advanced even farther this year courtesy of a convincing victory over compatriot Sloane Stephens.
Trevisan of Italy, her semi-final opponent, is also in her first major semi-final, having reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros in 2020.
In the lead-up to the French Open, she won her maiden WTA championship on the Moroccan clay, defeating 17th seed and US Open runner-up Fernandez to reach the quarterfinals.
Gauff, the youngest Slam semi-finalist since then-17-year-old Amanda Anisimova in 2019, will be a difficult opponent for her.
Gauff’s confidence and calm demeanour in Paris make her a tough opponent – and offer her a good chance of following in the footsteps of world number one and tournament favourite Iga Swiatek, who won Roland Garros as a teenager.