"I want to wish TEAM USA best of luck," Coco Gauff, 17, wrote in a Twitter statement as she announced her withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19

By Glenn Garner
July 18, 2021 05:38 PM
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Australian Open 2020
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Coco Gauff has withdrawn from her first Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19.

The 17-year-old tennis prodigy regrettably announced the news in a statement she posted Sunday to Twitter. "I am so disappointed to share the news that I have tested positive for COVID and won't be able to play in the Olympic Games in Tokyo," she wrote.

"It has always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this come true in the future," Gauff continued. "I want to wish TEAM USA best of luck and a safe games for every Olympian and the entire Olympic family."

She was picked for Team USA in women's singles earlier this month, based on world rankings out of the French Open after several top-ranked players turned down invites to the Summer Olympics. It made Gauff the youngest Olympic tennis player since Mario Ančić made his debut at the 2000 Sydney Olympics at age 16.

Gauff made headlines in July 2019 when she defeated her "idol" Serena Williams at only 15 years old. "When I was younger, I was just dreaming about winning tournaments and winning slams I guess, and I didn't think about all that would come with it," she later told PEOPLE of her overnight fame.

"So like, I guess I had time to mentally prepare for the winning but not necessarily the off the court," Gauff added. "But honestly, I'm just grateful that I've been given the platform and I hope that I'm able to use this platform in the right way."

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff
| Credit: Kelly Defina/Getty

The Atlanta native's exit from the Olympics comes after the first two positive COVID tests from athletes in the Olympic village — Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi from South Africa's football (soccer) team.

Listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day for more on Coco Gauff.

With 11,000 athletes and thousands of support staff expected to stay in the Olympic village, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has said that there is "zero" risk of athletes infecting Japanese residents with COVID-19. Spectators have recently been banned from attending the Summer Olympics as Tokyo declared a state of emergency. Additionally, all Olympians are required to wear face masks inside Olympic village, even if they're vaccinated.

RELATED VIDEO: Serena Williams Says She Won't Be Going to Tokyo Olympics: 'There's a Lot of Reasons'

Nearly 10,000 of the 80,000 unpaid Olympic volunteers previously pulled out of the event, many citing COVID-19 concerns. Meanwhile, a recent study found that almost 60 percent of people in Japan want the Summer Olympics to be cancelled for the same reasoning.

To learn more about all the Olympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. The Tokyo Olympics begin July 23rd on NBC.