WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Cori “Coco” Gauff took the tennis world by storm at Wimbledon, and it began by beating her idol Venus Williams. There’s a similar story right here in our own backyard.
Lenny Simpson is known for so much in the community of Wilmington, but did you know he was once at the top of the tennis game?
“I’ve seen this story… before,” Simpson said.
The story he is referring is that of American tennis phenom Gauff playing on tennis’s biggest stage against her idol Venus Williams.
“Here we are both 15, African Americans, playing against our idol,” Simpson said. “Me playing against my hero Arthur Ashe, she’s playing against Venus Williams, her idol.”
The only difference was Simpson didn’t quite have the same success against Ashe.
“It didn’t go well,” Simpson said. “He beat me like a drum. I mean did not take any pity on me at all. I mean my nerves just got the best of me.”
At the end of the day, it’s about the impact Gauff has made not only on the tennis community worldwide, but young players right here in Wilmington.
“From Wilmington to Wimbledon and back again, because that’s the effect that it has had on our younger kids, and that’s exactly what you want,” Simpson said. “That’s what its all about.”