Ranking points, success on tour, social media followers, respect and admiration—these are all areas Coco Gauff has seen significant gains in. But during her five-month hiatus from competing, the 16-year-old did lose something valuable: Her ability to get behind the wheel.

“This is so embarrassing. A month ago, I lost my permit so I haven’t been able to drive,” Gauff said on Tuesday. “Before then, I was practicing on my driving. I still need to work on my parking, it’s so bad.”

There was nothing too bad about her first match in more than six months. Having last appeared in the round of 16 at January’s Australian Open, where she lost in three sets to eventual champion Sofia Kenin, Gauff won a high-quality contest over countrywoman Caroline Dolehide to make a successful return in Lexington, K.Y.


The world No. 53 was forced to win the final three games of the second set to avoid going to a decider, a situation that she appreciated being back in.

“I’ve definitely missed competing and the whole aspect of figuring things out, the pressure moments,” she said. “To be honest, I haven’t really screamed ‘Come on!' since January, so it felt good. For me, tennis is kind of an outlet to let go of everything. Not just on court, but things going on off court.”

Gauff returns to the court Wednesday to face No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka in the third match on Center Court at the Top Seed Open. This week provides a preview of what’s to come in New York, where players will be required to adhere to strict bubble guidelines in order to compete at the two tournaments being staged at Flushing Meadows.

For Gauff, who defines herself as a homebody, there should not be any issue with sticking to the protocols. In Lexington, the Delray Beach, Fla. native and her team have kept themselves occupied by organizing Uno tournaments each night.

“I prefer to be in the hotel room,” said Gauff. “We’ll find ways to keep us entertained. I’ll probably bring an Xbox or something.”


Gauff explains her 
driving license 

Gauff explains her driving license woes