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Roger Federer criticized the Women's Tennis Association's age rule following Cori "Coco" Gauff's spectacular performance at Wimbledon.

By Charlotte Carroll
July 09, 2019

Roger Federer criticized the Women's Tennis Association's age rule following Cori "Coco" Gauff's spectacular performance at Wimbledon.

Gauff became the youngest player in the Open Era to qualify for a Wimbledon singles draw and is the youngest woman in the Open Era to qualify for a Grand Slam tournament main draw. She beat Venus Williams along the way before losing to Simona Halep in the fourth round.  

But the WTA's age restriction policy will limit the number of tournaments Gauff can play in. 

The rule was introduced in 1994 in response to the struggles of Jennifer Capriati—a phenom who burst onto the scene at 13 in 1991. The rule says players under 13 are not allowed to play, while 14- to 17-year-old players have restrictions. Fourteen-year-olds can play eight professional events (and only three where the prize money is greater than $60,000), while a 17-year-old is allowed to play 16 events. If a player does good, the limit can be increased slightly. 

Gauff can play 10 events as a 15-year-old but can play 12 since the WTA relaxed the rules a little due to her performance. She has already played in eight events since her March birthday. 

There are no restrictions for male players over the age of 16.

Federer, whose management company Team8 represents Gauff, believes it's time for a change.

"I've told the WTA they should loosen up the rules," he said, according to ESPN. "I loved seeing [Martina] Hingis doing what she did at a young age. I think it would be nice, you know, if they could play more. I feel like it puts, in some ways, extra pressure on them every tournament they play. It's like their week, 'This is now where I finally am allowed to play, I have to do well,' right? I'm not sure if it's maybe to some extent counterproductive.

"Maybe your best time [in a player's career] is from 14 to 20 for some reason. It's not like for everybody else from 20 to 30. So in a way you take away that opportunity, you know. ... It's up to debate. I don't have the perfect solution. I see why they did it, because we've had the history of some tough parents out there. But at the same time you're also increasing the pressure for that player each week to produce."

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