By Erik Gudris
When the women’s doubles draw at Roland-Garros was released, fans were treated with a surprise pairing in the field—Venus Williams and Coco Gauff.
The 40-year-old Williams and the 17-year-old Gauff will team up together in doubles, and not with their usual partners.
This will be the first Grand Slam that Williams has not played doubles with her younger sister Serena Williams. The Williams sisters are one of the most successful doubles teams in history, having won 14 major titles. That includes two Roland-Garros titles with in 1999 and 2010.
Gauff is best known for playing with her good friend and fellow American Caty McNally. They recently won the doubles title in Parma where Gauff also won the singles title.
Gauff and Williams have faced off in singles against each other twice. Gauff has won both meetings, including at last year’s Australian Open.
As to why Gauff and Williams are teaming up, one reason could be the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Both Gauff and Williams are potentially in the running to play doubles for the United States team, although final selections will be made later this summer.
The first time either Serena or Venus Williams plays a Grand Slam doubles tournament without her sister as a partner. They’ve played 34 Grand Slams together dating to 1997, winning 14. https://t.co/OgISuOMd7i
— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) May 30, 2021
Gauff and Williams will face No. 13 seeds Ellen Perez and Zheng Saisai in the first round.
The top seeds in the event are Hsieh Su-Wei and Elise Mertens. Other notable pairings include defending singles champion Iga Swiatek with Bethanie Mattek-Sands and 2019 Roland Garros champion Ash Barty with Australian Open finalist Jennifer Brady.
Photo credit: Getty