“My parents played sports in college, so when I was a kid they introduced me to a lot of sports because they wanted their children to play as well. They didn't think I would choose tennis because they never played it. Actually, no one in the family played it. I was six when I first picked up a racquet. I remember the first [tennis] summer camp my parents put me in. I didn't really like that because I just wanted to talk with my friends and not be on the court. I still played other sports, but when I turned 13 I turned my focus to tennis, and then I got pretty good at it. It wasn’t like I liked it more than other sports, I just liked winning.
Almost all my friends play tennis—we basically grew up playing at the [Mouratoglou] Academy. I practice six days a week, four to five hours a day. Normally I start practice around 9AM, and then I do school, and then I might practice again. It's hot in Florida, so we try not to go out in the middle of the day. My favorite thing about tennis is that I get to be alone on the court—I don't like it when people tell me what to do. On the court I get to make my own decisions, whereas playing for a team I have to follow someone else’s decision. But there are little moments in tennis where you're on a team—Fed Cup, for example, which is USA against a bunch of other countries. So you get the best of both worlds, I guess.
For beauty, my focus is makeup and nails—I like doing those the most. My hair is usually in braids. I like my hair, but braids are just easier. Especially when I sweat—when my hair isn’t in braids, the salt from my sweat dries out [my hair]. When I take my braids out, my hair is always doing good. Plus, it's just easier not to travel with a bunch of hair products when I’m on the road. I’m thinking about adding color to my braids. Maybe pink, or something. To get them done, I go to this lady named Lola, and she's really good. She gets me in, even when I text her five hours before, saying ‘Do you have anything open? I have to leave tomorrow for another tournament.’
It wasn’t like I liked it more than other sports, I just liked winning.
For the bigger tournaments—the grand slams—I get designs for my nails. At Wimbledon I had some cool nails with diamonds on them. At the US Open I had ombré nails. And now I’m doing neon. I really like using nails to express how I’m feeling at the moment. To get them done, I normally go to a nail salon near my house. I've never broken a nail while playing, and if I do then I'll just get them shorter. But so far, so good.
I’ve been watching makeup tutorials for as long as I can remember. When I was 12, my mom let me go to the store to buy my first mascara. And then I just kept begging her for more and more makeup. Eventually she let me get more, but her thing was just making sure I knew how to do it right so I wouldn't go out looking crazy. The makeup tutorials on YouTube definitely helped a lot. I like Jackie Aina, Alissa Ashley, and Patrick Starrr—those are the main three I watch every day.
I enjoy eating healthy food. But when I do eat junk food, my skin breaks out. So that's motivation, I guess. I use Cetaphil face wash and a Neutrogena moisturizer. I started using the face mist from Glossier, and I really like that—I use it every day. But overall I don't really do much. The biggest thing is sunscreen. I've been using the Neutrogena Sport sunscreen. I like it because it doesn't get in my eyes when I sweat.
Because I hate being sweaty, I get in the shower as soon as I get home from practice. And at the end of the shower I might turn [the temperature] to cold, just because it's so hot outside and the cold water is refreshing. Sometimes I do ice baths. They're not comfortable or anything, but you feel good after—I’ll give them that. They’re supposed to help your muscles. Refresh them. And I stretch a lot because that's important. Sometimes we do massages, but that’s just relaxing to me more than anything.”
—as told to ITG
Coco Gauff photographed by Tom Newton in New York on September 11, 2019.