Tennis: Gauff says she earned first pay cheque as Serena 'stunt double'

Coco Gauff earned her first wages playing the role of a young Serena Williams for an airline commercial. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - American Coco Gauff often talks about compatriot Serena Williams as an inspiration and on Friday (Aug 26) she said the 23-time Grand Slam winner is partially to thank for her first pay cheque too.

The 18-year-old French Open finalist earned her first wages playing the role of a young Williams for an airline commercial, Gauff told reporters ahead of Monday's US Open main draw start, and snagged a photo with her childhood idol on the set.

"I first met Serena - she definitely doesn't know this - I think I was nine or 10 years old. They needed a stunt double to play a young version of her just the face down," said Gauff.

"I think it was for a Delta commercial. I don't think they ever used it but that was, like, my first cheque I ever got as a kid. She doesn't know this but the first money I ever made for myself was because of her, doing a commercial."

Fan-favourite Gauff joined her US Open competitors in offering praise for Williams, who won her first Major title before Gauff was born and will soon retire after having inspired a generation of black athletes.

"Growing up I never thought that I was different because the No. 1 player in the world was somebody who looked like me," said Gauff. "I think that's the biggest thing that I can take from what I've learnt from Serena."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.