Coco Gauff Talks Pushing Past Disappointment of Being Unable to Compete in Olympics, Focusing on Future

The rising tennis star, who is currently competing in women's doubles at the US Open, has now set her sights on Paris in 2024

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff. Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for American Express

As Coco Gauff continues her journey at the 2021 US Open, she's also reflecting on one high-profile competition she was forced to miss this year.

Gauff had to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics in July after testing positive for COVID-19. Reflecting now, Gauff tells PEOPLE, "It was disappointing not to be able to go, but I think I was only sad for about a day, then after that I was of the mindset that you can't change the past and everything happens for a reason."

"So I think this will help me gear up even better for 2024," she says, name-checking Paris, the next host of the Summer Games. She's particularly excited to play in the French capital, which she calls her "favorite city."

"Hopefully I can qualify, and nothing happens last-minute, fingers crossed," Gauff, 17, adds laughing.

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff. Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for American Express

On Wednesday night, Gauff fell to Sloane Stephens in the second round of the US Open women's singles tournament. She's still in the women's doubles competition, however, and will play alongside Caty McNally on Thursday evening.

Gauff was celebrating the return of fans to the Open with American Express last week at the company's American Express Courts in Hudson River Park's Pier 76 in New York City. She surprised American Express card members by rallying with a few of them.

Having partners like American Express helps her success "a lot," Gauff tells PEOPLE, noting the company's support of the USTA Foundations' Excellence Program, which provides coaching to aspiring tennis players who may not have access to necessary resources.

When Gauff isn't on the court, she's just like every non-tennis-phenom teen: creating content on TikTok.

"For me, TikTok is definitely the platform I feel like I can reach the most people around my age," she explains. "It's really cool. It has some things other platforms just wouldn't understand with the trends and the lingo. I just enjoy following the trends and it's the app I don't have to focus so much on what I post, or branding, or anything like that. It's very relaxed."

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