British tennis player Jay Clarke has revealed how the unlikely figures of Drake and US hiphop group Migos helped convince him to abandon his initial plans to play the Wimbledon mixed doubles with compatriot Harriet Dart, and instead team up with teenage sensation Cori Gauff.
Dart received a text from Clarke this week, saying he was switching partners ahead of the mixed doubles opening round on Thursday. The duo managed to reach the semi-finals of the tournament last summer.
The 15-year-old Gauff has made waves at Wimbledon after becoming the youngest player in the professional era to qualify for the main draw before beating Venus Williams and 2017 semi-finalist Magdalena Rybarikova to reach the third round.
And after his straight sets defeat to Roger Federer in the men’s singles, Clarke revealed how two concerts over in the States had set the wheels in motion for his partnership with the teenager.
“We are both with the same management group,” Clarke replied when asked how the partnership had come about. “Yeah, her agent spoke to my agent. We went to a few concerts last year with the company.
“We went to Drake, Migos. These were all in Madison Square Garden over the US Open last year.
“Yeah, so she's a really, really cool kid. She's got a really bright future.”
“It was kind of a last-minute thing. I heard a lot about people changing last minute to make sure they get in. Obviously there was a thing with Andy (Murray) and Serena (Williams) wanting to play.
“And I wasn't sure. Like, we weren't told that we'd have the wildcard in again. Obviously with all these pairs that don't normally play, and I know there were only four wildcards.
“So, yeah, I made the decision a few days ago now to play with Coco, because wildcards aside, you play with a big name or a past champion. Yeah, I made the decision to play with probably the biggest name in the draw at the moment.”
Clarke added that his former partner had been “very upset” when he told her of his decision, but hoped that her second round singles victory over Beatriz Haddad Maia would go some way to softening the blow.
Dart plays the reigning World No 1 Ashleigh Barty on Saturday.
“Yeah, I spoke to her actually. I spoke to her twice,” Clarke added. “I said, well done for today, and, well done for winning your first match. Obviously initially she was very upset. She had every right to be. I’d be too.
“But I spoke to her before the tournament came out and said, If I win a match in the singles or two matches, then we wouldn't probably play anyway. We'd pull out. Obviously she's done that. Obviously I'm glad she's doing well.”
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