US teenager Coco Gauff has beaten Venus Williams in Australian Open first round, their second encounter in a Grand Slam.
The 15 year-old American held her nerves to overcome veteran 39 year-old Venus in the first tie breaker, winning 7-6(7-5) and then raced away in the second set, to clinch it 6-3. She similarly beat Venus at the Wimbledon first round last year.
Coco, ranked 67th and a fast rising star in world tennis, will next play unseeded Romanian Sorana Cirstea.
“That was really difficult, she played really well,” said the precocious teenager.
“I was really nervous for today’s match.
“I was a bit shocked — I’m sure everyone was shocked — when they saw the draw come out but I’m glad I was able to get through it,” Gauff added, referring to the repeat of their Wimbledon match.
Williams, formerly number one but now ranked 55th, conceded the first-set tie break when she hit a routine backhand overhead into the net.
Gauff, remarkably unfazed by playing someone more than twice her age, held her nerve in the second set to claim Williams’ scalp once more.
Victory over Williams at Wimbledon, and her run to the fourth round there — where she lost to eventual champion Simona Halep — propelled Gauff into the sporting limelight.
She went on to win her first WTA title in October in Linz, Austria.