WATCH: Coco Gauff makes a second Wimbledon fourth round after easing past Kaja Juvan in straight sets.

Young talents aim to improve with each match, with each week that they’re in action against those infinitely more experienced. It’s an oft-repeated goal that, at best, allows for only incremental adjustments, many of which hardly noticeable for even those who analyze their every move.

One of two Americans left in the women's draw, Coco Gauff returns to Wimbledon an entire two years removed from her explosive debut. Through three matches, the No. 20-seeded teenager has treated onlookers to her full arsenal of improvements all at once. Yet to drop a set at the All England Club after a 6-3, 6-3 win over fellow youngster Kaja Juvan, Gauff again advances into the fourth round not as the feel-good story she was in 2019, but as a credible threat for the title.

“I think definitely coming in today, I wasn’t as nervous as I was in my second round, but you guys always bring the energy on the court—whether you’re rooting for me or not, it’s a good feeling to be on this court,” she said as she salutes the crowd. “I’m super honored that the tournament allows me, because it’s not often a 17-year-old gets to play here.”


I want to win so bad. I try my best every point, and I want to win so bad that I give my all every time I step on the court. Coco Gauff

At first blush Gauff, hardly appears much older than the 15-year-old who sheepishly stunned Venus Williams, her braids flowing forth from her New Balance headband as she gracefully tracks each ball behind the baseline. She still brings intense focus to her strings between points, and unleashes youthful exuberance at net when she puts away a backhand.

But closer examination reveals a young adult—a fit and focused athlete with a maturing mindset, much-improved match management, and at home on the big stages.

Against hometown favorite Francesca Jones in the first round, Gauff navigated a tricky opponent and a partisan crowd to escape in two tight sets. Facing down former semifinalist Elena Vesnina next, she shook off missed opportunities to skillfully avoid a second-set letdown.

Her latest opponent, Juvan, provided an intriguing foil for their Centre Court clash. The 20-year-old nearly had a breakthrough of her own last Wimbledon, when she took the first set from Serena Williams, and has struggled through the spring since suffering a bout of COVID-19. Three years younger than the Socrates-obsessed Slovenian, Gauff was by far the wiser on Saturday.


Gauff returns to Wimbledon a very different player than the awestruck 15-year-old who made her debut in 2019 (Getty Images).

Gauff returns to Wimbledon a very different player than the awestruck 15-year-old who made her debut in 2019 (Getty Images).

“I want to win so bad,” she admits of her perceived relentlessness. “I try my best every point, and I want to win so bad that I give my all every time I step on the court."

Rolling through much of the opening set, she held off a late surge from Juvan and ultimately won a match of symmetrical margins, striking 21 winners to Juvan’s 21 errors.

Speaking of symmetry, her fourth-round encounter will be full circle from her first Wimbledon appearance, when she takes on 2018 champion Angelique Kerber.

"I think, to be honest, I'm just going to go out there and play free," she said later. "I don't feel any pressure on myself. I haven't felt any pressure on myself at all. My dad told me today I matched my result from 2019 so now should just be being able to play even freer.

"I know it's going to be a tough match. She's going to make a lot of balls in the court, make a lot of good shots. She's a great player. I'm just going to go out there and try my best, hopefully come out on top."

Ostensibly relegated back to underdog status, the young American, who balances her growing singles profile with a fruitful doubles partnership alongside good friend Caty McNally, can surely feel on even footing with the former No. 1 of late, and may yet carry her vast improvements onto a new plateau at SW19.

“I dream about it,” Gauff says of the deeper run that appears very much in sight, “but I like to take it one match at a time and focus on the match in front of me.

"The goal is to be in front of you guys next week, but I need to play the match in front of me and enjoy it as it goes.”