Francesca Jones shows Wimbledon heir apparent Coco Gauff a bit of Yorkshire grit

Coco Gauff was forced to dig deep on her Wimbledon return before she ended the hopes of Yorkshire’s Francesca Jones with a straight-sets victory.

Francesca Jones reacts during her first round ladies' singles match against Coco Gauff on court 2 on day two of Wimbledon (Picture: Steven Paston/PA Wire)
Francesca Jones reacts during her first round ladies' singles match against Coco Gauff on court 2 on day two of Wimbledon (Picture: Steven Paston/PA Wire)

The American saw her career take off in 2019 when she reached the fourth round at SW19 as a 15-year-old and was back in the All England Club as one of the contenders for the title.

Yet Jones, on her main draw debut at Wimbledon, held her own and pushed the teenager all the way until her resistance was eventually broken with Gauff earning a 7-5 6-4 win.

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Rain had forced the scheduled day one match to be put back 24 hours and a further downpour in the afternoon saw another delay added.

When Gauff and Jones did get under way, the football-mad Briton could have been forgiven for wondering what was going on across the capital at Wembley, such was the high standard of the match.

It did not show as the 20-year-old, who has a condition that meant she was born without several fingers and toes, worked hard as the opening exchanges went with serve.

Since Gauff’s exploits two years ago, she had moved up to 23 in the world and made the quarter-finals at Roland Garros earlier this month but a lack of fluency troubled the right-hander who slipped plenty of times in the first set.

After being made to initially dig deep on her serve, Jones was suddenly more comfortable and mixing up her game with joy at the net but a crucial break occurred in the 11th game.

Gauff squandered two break points but not the third and let out a huge roar which highlighted just how tricky she had found things.

A professional job on serve saw the opener wrapped up in 52 minutes but it did not get any more straightforward.

Wild card Jones remained confident and kept playing her shots with her belief buoyed by a run into the Australian Open main draw at the beginning of 2021.

A break point continued to elude the Briton though, but it was not the case for the American and in the seventh game of the second set it was taken to move within touching distance of the second round.

Jones won her service game to force Gauff to serve out for the match but two aces saw the No 20 seed begin her latest journey at the Championships on a positive note despite a tricky battle on Court Two.

A warm embrace was shared between the duo at the end and Gauff said: “Her story is incredible. From people telling her she couldn’t play tennis, let alone go pro, to the fact she has made it this far giving it her all is something I really respect as an athlete.

“Also, after the match it took her a while to get to the net because I think she was really trying to savour the moment but I basically told her you will have plenty more moments like this but you will be the one winning so don’t let this match affect you.

“If she competes like that and you compete hard every point, you will have matches go your way in the future.

“With her, she is just an outstanding person and player who will go far.

“So I was just letting her know don’t let this crush you because matches like this can really hurt or break a player and I don’t want it to break her. I want this to build her and next time she has a match like this, maybe even against me, she will know what to do and come out on top.”

Jones insisted this defeat will boost her belief before attempting to qualify for the US Open.

“Today was a great experience but bittersweet because I created chances and at the end of the day I am the one going home,” the 20-year-old admitted.

“I will keep building. I just competed with someone who made the quarters of Roland Garros, is 23 in the world, with multiple WTA titles and I felt comfortable on the court. I know sooner or later I will find myself in a position where I don’t need a wildcard but at the moment I am at the beginning of the construction of my house which is being built so to speak... that was an analogy just to clarify!”