American teenager Coco Gauff celebrated her 17th birthday on Saturday, a mere days after finishing the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships with a run to the quarterfinals.

Gauff hoped for an even bigger party by playing the final, but nonetheless enjoyed an impressive run at the WTA 1000—the best of her career thus far—with dramatic three-set wins over Ekaterina Alexandrova and 2019 Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova.


"I don't know if there's a birthday wish god or wizard or anything. I know there's a tooth fairy and a Santa Claus, but if there is one, I wish to be in the final," she said after surviving the No. 12-seeded Czech.

Bowing out to Swiss rival Jil Teichmann in the last eight, Gauff can look back on a memorable year despite the global pandemic, one in which she reached WTA semifinals at the Top Seed Open and the Adelaide International, a second straight Australian Open doubles quarterfinal with Caty McNally—the other half of "McCoco"—and flexed her influential muscle by speaking out on behalf of racial justice.

"We believe the Black experience is rich, diverse and full of stories that deserve to be told," she wrote in an Instagram caption promoting a Black History Month partnership with Jaden Smith and New Balance.

Gauff will enjoy a full-circle return to the Miami Open later this month. Receiving a wildcard to the Mandatory event in 2019, the then-15-year-old claimed her first WTA main draw match—foreshadowing her run to the second week of Wimbledon later that year.