John McEnroe is a smart guy. He knows tennis. He has strong opinions about lots of things and seems a little gruff at times, but he normally doesn't say overly harsh words about current tennis players. That does not mean, however, in the course of commentating on matches that he is afraid of giving a brutally honest answer.
In terms of Coco Gauff, who McEnroe has played an exhibition match and knows fairly well, McEnroe thinks she can be great and win several Grand Slams. But achieving No. 1 on the WTA tour and staying there for a long time? Not so fast.
In a recent interview with Eurosport, McEnroe was asked about Gauff and compared her to the other top-ranked players on the WTA tour. McEnroe definitely wanted to get across that he thinks Gauff is capable of winning at a high level. And yet, maybe Gauff isn't quite ready, if she ever is, to overtake Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, or Elena Rybakina long-term atop the rankings.
John McEnroe thinks Coco Gauff might not reach No. 1
One reason for this: The other players are just bigger human beings who might be able to hold up to the grind of the long tennis year better. McEnroe said, "(Gauff) is not as big as Rybakina, Sabalenka, or Swiatek, but she’s extremely athletic the way (Carlos) Alcaraz is. I expect (Gauff) to win more majors."
But Gauff "won’t get close any time soon. Soon there will be more younger players to add to the mix. I think Swiatek has done a great job at keeping up her level for so long now so it will be really hard for Coco to get close to her ranking any time soon though."
That's part of the issue, too: The way points are awarded. A player cannot just go through a run of winning several tournaments in a row. They need to win those same tournaments the following year and win other tournaments. Being No. 1 is not about being on a hot streak, or winning one US Open (Gauff won the 2023 US Open), but sustainability. We have not yet seen Gauff do that, but she is only 19 years old.
Of course, Swiatek is only 22 years old so Gauff isn't going to have a lot of years where she is the only great player. Swiatek will be there with her step by step. Should make for some great tennis for the next decade.