New York | Gauff at centre of US Open rules controversy
US Open officials are planning to ‘bend the rules’ in order to get Cori Gauff a spot in the final Grand Slam of the year.
According to the New York Post, officials are keen to give a wildcard to the 15-year-old star, who caught everyone’s attention at Wimbledon when she beat Venus Williams and made it to the fourth round.
We would expect to see Coco in the main draw of the US Open Chris Widmaier
The WTA, however, has strict restrictions for players 15 and under, limiting them to 10 pro tournaments and 3 wildcards per year.
Gauff has already accepted her 3 wildcards, using them at the Miami Open, French Open qualifiers and Wimbledon qualifiers.
“We would expect to see Coco in the main draw of the US Open,’’ USTA Director of Communications Chris Widmaier told The Post.
“She certainly won the hearts of tennis fans in our country with her Wimbledon performance.
“It’s not every day an athlete of her age becomes water-cooler talk.”
Widmaier said he believes the US Open will be ‘exempt’ from the WTA’s age rule.
The Post also quoted an anonymous WTA spokesperson who said they didn’t think the governing body would intervene.
“The US Open, as a Grand Slam, reserves the right to not align with the Age Eligibility Rule and offer a player a Wild Card in excess of her limit per the Age Eligibility Rule,’’ the WTA spokesperson reportedly said.
Gauff is only allowed to play 10 pro events from the time she turns 15 until her 16th birthday, and has played 7 so far, but the WTA has allowed her to play up to 12 due to her incredible performances at the junior level.
Roger Federer previously called for the WTA to loosen the rules surrounding its age-eligibility after the rise of Gauff.
The rules, which were pushed into place by the ITF, came into play in 1994 after young players such as Jennifer Capriati made her professional debut at just 13, but trailed off in her late teens.
Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam champion, said he understands why the rule is in place, but thinks there is room for improvement.
“I understand the rule completely, that they want the young players not to play too much,” Federer said at Wimbledon.
“I’ve told the WTA they should loosen up the rules. I loved seeing [Martina] Hingis doing what she did at a young age.”
Federer, whose Team8 Management company represents Gauff, said his connection with the American hasn’t influenced his views on the matter.
The Swiss maestro feels limiting the number of tournaments emerging stars can play in may be counter-productive.
“I think it would be nice if they could play more. I feel like it puts in some ways extra pressure on them every tournament they play,” he added.