Tennis star Coco Gauff's grandmother tells of Wimbledon 15-year-old
Tennis star Coco Gauff's trailbl
Tennis star Coco Gauff's trailblazing cancer-stricken grandmother shares intimate family photos and tells how the Wimbledon star is a typical teen off the court who listens to Rihanna and Beyonce and has a Serena Williams poster on her wall
- Tennis star Coco Gauff, 15, lost to former world number one Simona Halep Monday in the fourth round match of Wimbledon in London
- But the teenage sensation's fighting spirits come from her trailblazing grandmother Yvonne Odom, 73, DailyMailTV can reveal
- Odom made news in 1961 when she attended the all-white Seacrest High School in Delray Beach, Florida, and is currently in remission after battling stage four lung cancer
- Odom said: 'I've faced challenges in my life and overcome them and that has passed through my children and grandchildren'
- In an exclusive interview with DailyMailTV, Odom revealed that Coco is a typical 15-year-old off the court and has a poster of her idol Serena Williams on her bedroom wall as a 'reminder to work hard every day'
- Odom shared personal family photos which show a younger Coco playing tennis and posing with her two younger brothers Codey, 11, and Cameron, six
- Coco's father, former college basketball player Corey, 47, is her main tennis coach and the teen is home-schooled by mom Candi, 48, a former gymnast and track champion
Teenage tennis sensation Coco Gauff's fighting spirit comes from her trailblazing grandmother who has beaten cancer as well as racial prejudice, DailyMailTV can reveal.
Yvonne Odom, 73, is now in remission from stage four lung cancer and when she was Coco's age - 15 - she enrolled as the first African-American student at a local all-white high school in 1961, making headlines like her superstar granddaughter.
Odom, a retired teacher and mother of three, is now looking after Coco's younger brothers Codey, 11, and Cameron, six, at her home in Florida while her daughter Candi (Coco's mother) and son-in-law Corey remain in London with Wimbledon's latest star.
Coco - the youngest player to reach Wimbledon's last 16 since Jennifer Capriati in 1991 – lost to Simona Halep Monday, missing out on a place in the quarter-finals.
But like millions of tennis fans grandmother Yvonne and husband Eddie, 75, have been glued to the TV watching Coco's amazing run in this year's championship.
Tennis star Coco Gauff, 15, lost to former world number one Simona Halep Monday in the fourth round match of Wimbledon in London
The teenage sensation's fighting spirits come from her trailblazing grandmother Yvonne Odom, 73, DailyMailTV can reveal
In an exclusive interview with DailyMailTV, Odom revealed that Coco is a typical 15-year-old off the court and has a poster of her idol Serena Williams on her bedroom wall as a 'reminder to work hard every day'. She showed these childhood photos of a young Coco
Odom is pictured with family watching Sunday's match at Paradise Sports Bar in Delray Beach, Florida, where Coco defeated Polona Hercog
They particularly enjoyed the teen's comeback Friday against match point to claim victory against Slovenia's Polona Hercog to make the final 16.
This photo shows a younger Coco in 2014 when she won the Girls 12 Supernational Championship
The proud grandma said: 'Coco's comeback against Polona was as dramatic as it gets but I knew she would do it.
'When that girl sets her mind to win, she wins. She never steps on a tennis court thinking anything other than she will win.'
Yvonne texted Rihanna and Serena Williams fan Coco after the game saying 'never say die'.
She also told her that God did not give her the spirit of fear but power and self control.
Coco comes from a deeply religious family. Coco's great-grandfather Rev. Randolph M Lee built and founded their local church, St John Missionary Baptist in Boynton Beach.
'The church is a big part of our lives and always has been,' Yvonne said.
'We joke as a family that Rev Lee is up there in heaven nudging God to make sure things go Coco's way on that tennis court.
'I like to send her quotes from Scripture after her games because I think it helps keep her grounded and focus.
'When I talk to her on the phone afterwards she doesn't get the chance to say much except, ''Thank you, grandma'' because I'm the one doing all the talking.
She added: 'Being diagnosed with lung cancer about six years ago was a terrible shock but we got through it. I fought it, I'm still here, and it's in remission.
'I'm grateful for every day I have and being able to see Coco doing what she's doing right now is the ultimate gift.'
In 2014 Cori 'Coco' Gauff became the Clay Court National Champion in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
'We are a very close family and we're all there for each other. We've all supported Coco and we're all here for her,' Odom said. Coco is pictured holding awards after she competed in a run organized by her church
Coco is picture (right) with her mother Candi, father Corey, and two younger brothers Codey, 11, and Cameron, six, in an undated family photo
Parents Candi and Corey Gauff, watched their daughter play against Romania's Simona Halep in a women's singles match during day seven of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London on Monday
Grandmother Yvonne Odom is pictured with Coco's younger brothers Codey, 11, and Corey, six, sitting among family photos and awards in Florida as Coco and their parents are in London
Coco's Wimbledon dream ends: How 15-year-old who beat Venus Williams made it to the last 16 before crashing out
- First round: Beat Aliona Bolsova (Spain) 6-3, 6-4
- Second round: Beat Valentina Ivakhnenko (Russia) 6-2, 6-3
- Third round: Beat Greet Minnen (Belgium) 6-1, 6-1
- First round: Beat Venus Williams (USA) 6-4, 6-4
- Second round: Beat Magdaléna Rybáriková (Slovakia) 6-3, 6-3
- Third round: Beat Polona Hercog (Slovenia) 3-6, 7-6, 7-5
- Fourth round: Lost to Simona Halep (Romania) 3-6, 3-6
Coco's father, former college basketball player Corey, 47, is her main tennis coach and the teen is home-schooled by mom Candi, 48, a former gymnast and track champion.
Coco won the French Open junior title last year – just 12 months after becoming the youngest ever US Open girls' singles finalist.
The tennis ace, ranked 301 in the world, will likely soar up the rankings after Wimbledon.
And Yvonne believes Coco could become the greatest player of all time.
But at 15 she is still a typical teenager off court.
Coco has a giant poster of her idol Serena Williams on her bedroom wall as a 'reminder to work hard every day'.
Amazingly, the young star wasn't even born when Serena's older sister Venus, 39, won her first Wimbledon in 2000.
At home Coco teases her brothers and listens to the likes of Beyonce, Rihanna and Miss Mulatto.
Like her granddaughter, Yvonne made news in 1961 when she attended the all-white Seacrest High School in Delray Beach, the area where she still lives.
On her first day she was told to go to Seacrest two hours after the white pupils arrived supposedly to avoid any confrontations.
As an excellent pupil she was handpicked to go to the school to prove that African-American children could perform as well academically as any white child.
Odom made news in 1961 when she attended the all-white Seacrest High School in Delray Beach, Florida, (right in a yearbook photo) and is currently in remission after battling stage four lung cancer
This undated family photo shows Yvonne and Eddie with their three children; Joi Grant, Candi Gauff (Coco's mother) and Eddie Odom III
Coco's family has always been involved in sports. Her grandfather Eddie Odom is the founder of Delray Beach American Little League (pictured)
These Odom family photos were taken after Yvonne Odom was diagnosed with lung cancer six years ago. They were taken in Atlanta, Georgia, during a family vacation and show Yvonne's three children; Joi Grant, Candi Gauff (Coco's mother) and Eddie Odom III, plus their partners and children
In school she excelled at athletics and wanted to join the Tennessee State Tigerbelles track team whose African-American women were winning scores of medals and graduating college.
But her school wanted to minimize her contact with white pupils and cruelly she wasn't allowed to play sports.
'I was 15 when I went to Seacrest and I loved sport and still do,' Yvonne said.
'I really loved basketball, not tennis, sadly. But we have to play three a side because there were never enough girl players.
'I knew I could outrun most of the other pupils, too, even the boys, if they had let me.
'Seacrest didn't allow me to compete in sports unfortunately so my achievements in sport remained at a local level but I always kept my passion for it, that's never gone away.'
Yvonne went on to become a math teacher with a college degree.
She met husband Eddie in the ninth grade and they have been married more than 50 years.
They have three children; oldest daughter Joi Grant, Candi Odom and Eddie Odom III. They have seven grandchildren; four girls and three boys.
Simona Halep of Romania and Cori Gauff of the United States shake hands at the net following their Ladies' Singles fourth round match
Despite Monday's loss, Odom believes Coco could become the greatest player of all time
Yvonne added: 'I've faced challenges in my life and overcome them and that has passed through my children and grandchildren.
'We are a very close family and we're all there for each other. We've all supported Coco and we're all here for her.
'I knew I could get through my schooling and I knew that those years were my challenge that I had to beat.
'Coco's challenge is being the best she can be and I know she can win Wimbledon,' she said ahead of Monday's match.
Husband Eddie, who with Yvonne co-founded the Delray Beach American Little League for kids' baseball, said: 'I am so proud of my wife and Coco.
'Things were different in the early 1960s and thankfully things are different now.'
The family watched Coco's matches at the Delray Beach Paradise Sports Bar which is owned by Coco's father.
Eddie added before the match: 'It's been quite a tournament and we just can't wait to see Coco's next game.'