Candi and Corey Gauff gave up their careers to help Coco pursue tennis full-time
Tennis star Coco Gauff wouldn’t be where she is today without the unconditional love and support from her parents, Candi Gauff and Corey Gauff.
The one constant through it all? Her family. Most notably her parents, who gave up everything so she could chase her tennis dreams. “My dad told me I could do this when I was eight, and obviously, you never believe it,” Coco told reporters following her 2019 Wimbledon upset.
Fast forward to August 2023, Coco not only became the first teenager but also the youngest player to ever win the Mubadala Citi DC Open. That same month, Coco captured her first Cincinnati Open title. Then, in September 2023, she became a Grand Slam champion when she won the 2023 US Open.
"Thank you, first, to my parents. Today was the first time I've ever seen my dad cry," Coco during her on-court interview. "Thank you guys, you believed in me from the beginning. My dad took me to this tournament. [I watched] Venus and Serena compete, so it's really incredible to be on this stage."
Coco is quickly becoming a household name, but her father tells Teen Vogue that Coco’s road to greatness isn’t a story of overnight success, nor would he or Candi consider their daughter a tennis “prodigy.”
“When it comes to something like tennis, [Coco] works hard. This is not an accident. She might be overnight popular, but she’s not an overnight success,” he stated.
Here’s everything to know about Coco Gauff’s proud and supportive parents, Candi Gauff and Corey Gauff.
They are athletes in their own right
Prior to the birth of their oldest child, Corey and Candi were on the road to becoming professional athletes themselves. Corey played basketball at Georgia State University, while Candi was on the track and field team at Florida State University. In fact, Candi’s heptathlon performance in 1991 is still considered one of the best scores in FSU history.
Coco may have inherited some of her parents’ athleticism, but Corey told The New York Times it was really he and Candi who lucked out. In an interview, the proud dad shared how their respective sporting experiences prepared them for raising a pro athlete of their own.
“I think it helps parents when they have played as high as college or even pro,” he said. “You better understand the process, and so you don’t get too jittery about it. You don’t feel like you’re running out of time, so you are not rushed. You kind of meet your kid where they are at.”
They have been married for more than 20 years
The pair, who tied the knot on Jan. 13, 2001, will celebrate their 23rd wedding anniversary in 2024. Candi posted a heartwarming tribute to Corey on Instagram in honor of their 19th anniversary in 2020.
“19 years and counting. Happy Anniversary to us,” she captioned the snap of Corey hugging her from behind. “You and I already know the value we bring to each other and to our family. I love you, I love us, I love our life together. Happy Anniversary!”
Later that year in December, the couple revisited the restaurant where they had their first date 24 years prior.
They quit their jobs to help Coco pursue tennis full-time
When Coco was in second grade, Corey and Candi knew their daughter was destined to be a star athlete. So, they said goodbye to their life in Atlanta and moved back to their hometown of Delray Beach, Florida, where they could lean on their immediate family for support.
Committing to the sport full-time was a joint effort for the Gauff family. A teacher, Candi left her job to homeschool Coco and they moved in with her parents to help save money. As time went on and Coco’s tennis career advanced, Corey eventually transitioned from his role as a healthcare executive to being Coco’s head coach. Corey joked to Sun Sentinel that the family quickly went from being “a single-income family” to a “no-income family” as a result.
They have two other children: Cody and Cameron
Coco isn’t the only person in her family with a penchant for sports. Her younger brothers have inherited the Gauff athleticism gene as well, according to a profile for Teen Vogue.
Born on Sept. 21, 2007, Cody is the middle child of the Gauff family. The youngest of the bunch, Cameron, was born on June 5, 2013, after the family relocated to Delray Beach. Growing up in Florida has its perks. For example, both Cody and Cameron have had the opportunity to play baseball at Pompey Park, named after their grandfather Eddie “Red” Odom, who co-founded the Delray Beach American Little League.
Since their kids were young, Candi and Corey have encouraged their children to chase after their dreams. As they’ve drilled into Coco, the pair just want them to reach their full potential in whatever space that may be, including sports.
“You come from a lineage who has done great things. We wouldn’t put [anything] on you that hasn’t been done [already],” Candi explained of their drive.
Candi is the family mediator
Like any father-daughter coaching dynamic, Corey and Coco have had their fair share of quarrels on the tennis court. Coco opened up to Sun Sentinel about how her relationship with her dad has changed over the years, and how the two are working on understanding their styles of communication better, specifically when it comes to tennis.
“When we were younger, it was pretty easy,” Coco said. “And then when I turned, I would say, 12 or 13, we used to argue, because he used to be annoying because he would bring tennis home, and he’s always around me. So now we talked, and we understand each other now more.”
Sports aside, Corey and Candi are a team when it comes to raising their kids. However, Candi often refers to herself as the family mediator when it comes to resolving issues between Coco and her dad on the court.
“There was a breaking point, and I stopped it and went to the center of the court and said, ‘This is Switzerland. This is where, if you have a problem, you come here and discuss it,’ ” Candi also said in the interview.
They are their daughter’s “biggest supporters”
Though they may have their disagreements, Coco has a very close relationship with her parents. The superstar athlete gushed about her parents and their support on CBS This Morning following her impressive win against Venus Williams in the opening round of Wimbledon in 2019.
“In the match, I try not to look at my parents too much, but definitely when I have a big ‘Come on!’ or I scream, I look at them because they kind of hype me up,” Coco told host Gayle King. “And then sometimes when I feel a little bit tight during a match, I look at them because they just give me fist pumps, so that just shows me that everything’s gonna be okay. They’re definitely my biggest supporters.”
Corey is almost always cheering from Coco's player box, but in September 2023, during the US Open quarter-final, he had to leave his seat. Coco explained later that her dad was doing laps around the stadium to calm his nerves. She ultimately clenched a win over Caroline Wozniacki that day, and according to a TikTok video, Corey was elated.
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