Tony Adams says 'lunatic' Arsenal legend was late for training 'every single day

Tony Adams has revealed that Arsene Wenger had to push training sessions back due to legendary striker Ian Wright arriving late ‘every single day’ during their time at Arsenal.

Wright rose from non-league obscurity to establish himself as one of the greatest players in the Gunners’ history, scoring 185 goals in 288 appearances for the north London outfit from 1991 to 1998.

Wenger’s arrival in 1996 transformed the club – after three years without silverware – and Wright won the Premier League title and the FA Cup in his final season under the Frenchman’s tutelage before moving across the capital to join West Ham.

Adams, who served as captain for 14 years until his retirement, claims Wright was given extra leeway by Wenger and the rest of the squad had to accommodate for the forward’s poor time-keeping by training at a later time.

‘Arsene Wenger threw up a whole different way of managing through love. With kindness, consideration and compassion. All these words I’d never bloody heard of! I thought it was fight, fight, fight, fight, fight!’ Adams said on the The Micky & Woody Show’s Podcast.

‘He managed with love: “Are you having a bad day today, Tony? Why don’t you take the day off?”

‘I always remember his lovely style, it might sum up his style of management which was really interesting. The lunatic, talking about emotionally up and down, Ian Wright used to play for us and he was coming in from Croydon every day. Every single day, late. Every single day.

‘I said to Arsene, “Are you gonna say something or me? I’m gonna pin him. I’m six weeks clean and sober so I’m not gonna pin [laughs] him but I’m having a conversation!”

‘And Arsene said: “Nooo, nooo! We put training back so he can get in on time”. I said, “What?! Put training back?! What are you talking about?!”

‘He said, “But listen, we need him at the moment. The minute we don’t need him, we get rid of him”. I said, “I’m not gonna have a confrontation, we’ll put training back, we’ll allow him to get in on time, we train with him, we leave him”.

‘To be honest with you, there’s a balancing line so I pinned Wrighty as well [laughs]. I said: “Wrighty, we’ve got to pick the kids up in the afternoon so get yourself inside!”‘

Adams says he admired the way Wenger always tried to avoid confrontation and just ‘walk away’ whenever possible.

‘There’s a time for confrontation as well but Arsene was completely against confrontation,’ the ex-England defender added.

‘He always walked away, he went for a walk every time and had no place for it.

‘It’s really interesting.’

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Mike Perry says only his GIRLFRIEND will be in his corner

‘I’m not listening to any coaches right now’: UFC fan favourite Mike Perry ditches trainers and says only his GIRLFRIEND will be in his corner for future bouts in a bid to transform poor run of form in the octagon

  • UFC fan favourite Mike Perry says he has ditched his coaches for future fights 
  • The 28-year-old is in a poor run of form, having lost five of his last seven bouts 
  • Perry says only his girlfriend will be in his corner when he next fights in MMA
  • England’s Darren Till is keen to fight Perry on the UFC’s ‘Fight Island’  

UFC star Mike Perry has decided to ditch his coaches for future MMA bouts, revealing only his girlfriend will be in his corner for upcoming fights. 

The welterweight, who has lingered in the top 30 fighters in the division for some time, has chosen to mix things up after enduring a poor run of form inside the octagon. 

‘Platinum’ has won just two of his last seven bouts, convincing the 28-year-old that wholesale changes need to be made in his coaching set up. 

UFC star Mike Perry has ditched his trainers, saying only his girlfriend will be in his corner

Latory Gonzalez (right) and a friend will be the only people in his corner when he fights next

And the fan favourite has revealed that only his girlfriend, Latory Gonzalez, will be in his corner when he next enters the octagon. 

‘My girlfriend, just her. If not, her and her friend,’ he told MMA Junkie. ‘I’m not listening to any coaches right now.

‘Coaches who are saying things that they ain’t gonna go in there and do. They want it to be this way or this way, and like it’s a totally different way.

‘I need a guy like me to hold mitts; I want to hold mitts for myself to be honest with you. I can show people a couple of techniques or whatever, and I’m just ready to fight for my life… Ain’t nobody gonna take this from me.’

‘Platinum’ is on a poor run of form, having lost five of his previous bouts in the octagon

The 28-year-old dismissed the role of trainers, saying he doesn’t need advice between rounds 

The American also dismissed the role of those in a fighter’s corner during bouts. 

‘All I need the corner for is to pass me the bottle of water, wipe my head off or put the ice on my neck when I get hot coming in between the rounds,’ he added.

‘It’s probably not gonna go more than five minutes, and if it does, all I need is a bottle of water.

‘I need to sip a drink, put some ice on my neck, and I don’t need no advice.’ 

Perry has had a love-hate relationship with UFC rival Darren Till, having sparred with the Englishman in the past. 

Till has expressed his intention to meet his foe in a future bout on ‘Fight Island’, the mysterious location in which UFC President Dana White wishes to host events during the coronavirus crisis. 




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Iniesta says World Cup-winning strike helped in his depression battle

‘My friend Dani Jarque died… the goal was the start of the improvement’: Andres Iniesta reveals World Cup-winning strike helped in his battle with depression after bereavement which required professional help

  • Andres Iniesta scored the winning goal for Spain in the 2010 World Cup final
  • He took his shirt off in celebration and dedicated it to his friend Dani Jarque
  • Iniesta has been open about battling depression after his Jarque’s passing
  • The midfielder sought professional help to cope with the bereavement process 

Andres Iniesta has revealed that his World Cup-winning goal against Holland in 2010 played a key role in his battle with depression.

The Barcelona and Spain icon suffered ‘one of the hardest phases’ of his life with Dani Jarque, a former Espanyol midfielder and close friend to Iniesta, died suddenly aged 26 following a heart attack in 2009.

Iniesta has been open and honest about the ‘fragile situation’ that Jarque’s death placed him in as he tried to grieve for his friend.  

Andres Iniesta marked his World Cup final goal in 2010 with a tribute to friend Dani Jarque after the former Espanyol midfielder died aged 26 following a heart attack the year before

Iniesta believes that goal was ‘the beginning’ of his improvement in his battle with depression

But speaking about his winning goal in South Africa a decade ago in which he netted before revealing a tribute written on his undershirt for Jarque, Iniesta pinpoints that moment as key in bringing positivity back to his life. 

The tribute shirt in South Africa read: ‘Dani Jarque, siempre con nosotros’ (Dani Jarque, always with us). 

Speaking to Bild am Sonntag, Iniesta said: ‘Unfortunately, I had to experience several misfortunes in a row, even though I was really successful at the time. 

Jarque (right) was very close to Iniesta and his death became very troubling for his friend 

‘But then my friend Dani Jarque died in August 2009, which really put me in such a fragile situation that I needed professional help.

‘It was certainly the hardest phase of my life. It was very good for me to have the support of Anna, my then girlfriend and current wife, and of course that of my parents.’

The game was in the balance in that final before Iniesta stepped up to be the hero for Spain in a moment he has described as ‘the beginning of the improvement.’

‘Fortunately, this phase is a thing of the past,’ he continued. ‘A phase that made me stronger and better.’ 

Despite being among the most decorated players in Barcelona and Spanish football history, Iniesta, now playing out in Japan with Vissel Kobe has found it important to be clear and honest about his mental health struggles. 

As well as the 2010 World Cup, he won two European Championships with Spain and at Barcelona he lifted four Champions League titles and nine LaLigas.  

Iniesta’s goal sealed the World Cup and he thinks that moment helped him move forward




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Navratilova says Federer, Nadal, Williams and Djokovic will be 'going nuts'

Martina Navratilova believes the likes of Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will be ‘going nuts’ as they sit on frustrated amid the coronavirus crisis.

The group are widely considered among the greatest tennis players of all time and Navratilova thinks they all will be ruing the ‘time lost’.

Federer, Nadal, Williams and Djokovic are all in hot pursuit of tennis history but their charges have been temporarily halted until July 13 at the earliest.

‘The Big Three’ are all vying to end their careers as the most successful male player of all time. Nadal had the opportunity to equal Federer’s 20-Slam haul at the suspended French Open, while 17-time major winner Djokovic – the youngest of the trio – is within striking distance of both.

It’s a familiar feeling for Williams, who has been just one Slam behind Margaret Court’s 24-major haul since 2017 – losing four finals in that spell – but at 38, time is running out.

Federer is the same age and Navratilova sympathises most with the pair most, with future chances likely few and far between as they approach their 40s.

‘Only war has stopped major tournaments happening, now we have this pandemic and for players like Roger Federer and, of course, Serena Williams, it’s time lost,’ Navratilova told Laureus.com.

‘Particularly Serena, Wimbledon being her best chance to break Margaret Court’s record. She’s stuck on 23 and tries to get to 24, maybe 25. It’s an opportunity lost, when you’re not getting any younger. If I was sitting in that position I’d be going nuts that I can’t play.

‘Everybody’s in the same boat, but for the old players  like Roger and even Rafa Nadal and, particularly, Serena Williams, it’s more difficult, no doubt about it.

‘I sympathise with them, because this is an enemy you can’t rehab, you can’t fight against, you just hope it will go away and we can play next year.

‘Novak Djokovic is right behind Roger and Rafa chasing the major titles, but I think the one that’s most affected would be Roger Federer because he’s the eldest by quite a bit.

‘But you have to deal with it. As Billie Jean King said “champions adjust”.’

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Jens Lehmann says players 'have to cope' with coronavirus

‘You have to get on with it’: Jens Lehmann says players ‘have to cope’ with coronavirus and insists that for people ‘with a strong immune system, it is not a big concern’ after recovering from the illness himself

  • Jens Lehmann believes footballers have to get on with playing again
  • Seasons across Europe have been suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak
  • Germany’s Bundesliga is due to return with a full round of fixtures this weekend 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Jens Lehmann has dismissed coronavirus as ‘not a big concern’ for footballers ahead of the return of the Bundesliga this weekend.

The German top flight will become the first major European league to return on Saturday with the Premier League hoping to return next month and France’s Ligue 1 already cancelling their season.

And the former Arsenal goalkeeper insists that players will just have to get on with it, with the Bundesliga carrying on despite three positive tests at Cologne and Dynamo Dresden being forced to postpone their game after going into quarantine. 

Former goalkeeper Jens Lehmann believes coronavirus is ‘not a big concern’ for footballers

‘In the end, you have to live with it, because the only thing that this lockdown is based on is the hope that eventually we are going to find a vaccine or some medicine which cures it. But there’s only hope,’ Lehmann told beIN Sports.

‘So far we don’t have anything. Because of that, you cannot shut down everything. So you have to get on with it.’

The former German international has recovered from coronavirus himself and claims catching the virus should not be a major concern for players. 

‘As long as the symptoms are not that bad, I think players have to cope with it,’ Lehmann added.

The former German international suffered from coronavirus but has since recovered

Dynamo Dresden squad are forced into quarantine after two players test positive for COVID-19

‘We have plenty of players who were actually infected, and most of them did not even show any symptoms.

‘So I think for young, healthy, people with a strong immune system it’s not such a big concern.’

The Bundesliga gets underway on Saturday with Schalke facing Borussia Dortmund in the first game since the season was suspended over two months ago. 




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London Mayor Sadiq Khan says it's 'too early' to host games in capital

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tells the Premier League it is ‘too early’ to host matches in the capital again as he fears the extra burden football will put on the NHS

  • The Premier League remains in talks with the Government over Project Restart 
  • But London Mayor Sadiq Khan says he is against staging games in the capital
  • He stressed that it was ‘too early’ to be in discussions about the sport’s return
  • London has been hit hard by the coronavirus although cases are coming down  
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan says it is ‘too early’ for Premier League matches to be staged in the capital.

The English top flight are still in talks with the Government about Project Restart with aims of getting the season back on track on June 12 and a plan to stage games behind closed doors and in neutral venues.

But in the latest setback to proposals to complete the domestic campaign, Khan said he would be against games being played in London because the country was still ‘in the grips of this crisis’ with many people still dying from coronavirus.   

Sadiq Khan is against staging Premier League games in London in June and says it’s too early

London has been hit particularly hard by the deadly disease, with fatalities in the thousands, and Khan stressed that, even though he wants to see his beloved Liverpool lift the title, the focus had to be on the NHS and the health of the nation.

His spokesman told the Evening Standard: ‘Sadiq is extremely keen for the Premier League and professional sport in general to resume. 

‘However, with the country still in the grips of this crisis, and hundreds of people dying every day, he believes that it is too early to be discussing the resumption of the Premier League and top-flight sport in the capital.

‘As a Liverpool fan, Sadiq of course wants the Premier League to return, but it can only happen when it is safe to do so, and it cannot place any extra burden on the NHS and emergency services.’

The Mayor opposes matches in the capital, such as the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Despite being a Liverpool fan, Khan said it was crucial that a burden was not placed on NHS

He is concerned about an extra burden being place on emergency services during the crisis 

Boris Johnson detailed in his blueprint to bring the UK out of lockdown that sports would be permitted to return from June 1 but that spectators may not be allowed until a vaccine is found.

However, a solid date for a Premier League comeback is yet to be earmarked as clubs continue to debate the best way for action to resume. 

League chief Richard Masters said there was an ‘ongoing dialogue’ with Government and police about football’s return and that the matter was still a live topic among clubs – some of which are opposing a plan to finish the season at neutral grounds.

‘I think everybody would prefer to play home and away if at all possible,’ he said on Monday. ‘And I think it’s clear to see that some clubs feel more strongly about that than others.

‘It is an ongoing dialogue and obviously since Covid-19 became an issue we’ve been talking to the authorities about the conditions in which we could get the Premier League back up and running and taking all that advice on board.’

West Ham’s London Stadium is a contender to host neutral Premier League games in London 

Premier League CEO Richard Masters said there was still an ‘ongoing dialogue’ about a restart

He said a number of clubs had argued that it may be easier to police their games at their own stadium rather than at a neutral venue.

‘I think some of our clubs would argue that in relation to policing their own fans that they have a good relationship with them, and that they encourage their own fans not to turn up outside their home venues while they’re playing behind closed doors, and they’re in a better position to control that, but it’s not a matter of convincing (the Government and the police), this has to be a decision that’s come to mutually.’

It is understood eight to ten ‘approved’ venues had been put to the clubs as the only safe way to complete the season – with West Ham’s London Stadium one of the contenders in a shortlist that also includes Wembley. 

The head of the UK’s football police unit, Mark Roberts, has insisted the issue is ‘not a big deal’

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts of South Yorkshire Police, the UK’s national football policing lead, had told clubs debating the fairness of neutral venues to ‘get a grip’ in a situation where thousands of people have died. 

Roberts said: ‘We need to temper things. When you see people arguing the integrity is so important that ‘”we played them away and now it’s neutral” or “they had their fans and we can’t have ours”. 

‘It might be a big deal in football terms, but in broader society where we have lost 30,000 people and growing that’s not a big deal. 

‘Some people in football need to get a grip and recognise there’s a bigger picture here.’




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Ovie Soko says LaMelo Ball will rise to challenge of playing NBA basketball

Ovie Soko expects top draft prospect LaMelo Ball to make a major impact in the NBA and believes the young guard can have “the biggest year of any player in the 2020 rookie class” next season.

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‘LaMelo has the talent to back up father’s big talk’

LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton are two really talented prospects but what makes their basketball journeys so interesting is the route they have taken, playing professionally overseas early in their careers instead of going to university in the US.

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Gary Neville says money is clouding the minds of Premier League chiefs

‘How many have to die playing football for it to be unpalatable?’: Gary Neville says money is clouding the minds of Premier League chiefs as they push on with ‘Project Restart’ while thousands die

  • Premier League is planning to resume group training in mid May and play in June
  • Hundreds of people in the United Kingdom are still dying from coronavirus
  • Gary Neville said if it was non-economic decision no football would be played
  • He posed the question, how many deaths in football make restart unpalatable? 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Gary Neville has warned that restarting the Premier League could well cause deaths in football and believes the game could become unpalatable. 

The UK death toll from coronavirus at last count was 21,678 and hundreds are still dying every day. 

Neville thinks the push to resume Premier League action in June is a purely economic decision and could spell disaster if a player, staff member or somebody connected with a club dies or goes into intensive care. 

Gary Neville warned that the money at stake is clouding judgements over restarting football

Play is scheduled to resume in June with group training planned to begin in mid May 

The current plan, ‘Project Restart’, is for players to resume group training together by mid May and then begin competitive matches behind closed doors in June. 

The Premier League will oversee a huge testing operation to keep those involved as safe as possible, with £4million to be spent on 26,000 tests, but Neville says there is still a real risk factor.    

He told the Sky Sports Football Show: ‘The FIFA medical officer said that football should not take place before September. I think if it was a non-economic decision there would be no football for months. 

‘People are now assessing risk. How many people have to die playing football in the Premier League before it becomes unpalatable? One? One player? One member of staff goes into intensive care? What risk do we have to take? The discussion is purely economic.’

And the former Manchester United defender turned pundit claims that the money on offer and risk of financial ruin are clouding people’s judgement. 

He added: ‘There will be people who will view it as a risk factor. Players themselves will want to go and play. Players at the lower levels will want to go play and 1,400 players are out of contract. 

‘Clubs have huge investment in this season. Think about what’s at stake for Leeds, it’s absolutely massive. There are big prizes up for grabs. There’s huge economic loss. It clouds people’s minds in terms of the risk that they’re willing to take.’     

There is a possibility that the proposed starting date of the Premier League could be pushed back further if the coronavirus situation deteriorates or fails to subside as anticipated. 

France, the Netherlands and Belgium have all decided to cancel the campaign and when asked about pushing the date back further for the Premier League, Neville doubts it could happen as late as September. 

The former Manchester United defender thinks football could quickly become ‘unpalatable’

There would be no fans able to attend matches but there is still a risk factor, says Neville

‘I think it’s difficult to pick it up because of the contract situations with regards to players at existing clubs,’ he continued. 

‘An extra month would be palatable but going into August and September would be difficult to implement. In France, the government stepped in. Our government is testing the water. It’s typical of our government, £4million of tests. They drip feed in every day and test the water and then will make a decision. They’ll probably wait for the Bundesliga and then go back to that. 

‘I keep coming back to the fact that when one player or member of staff goes into intensive care, what will they do? That’s what’s on this shoulder. They’re not sure. 

And he went on to argue that if there was a bailout package for teams struggling to stay afloat, there would be an easier decision to make about cancelling the season.  

‘They (the government) have to give the green light from a health and safety point of view. I don’t think any league will go against government guidelines. I was saying this six weeks ago when they said that it was okay to go to Cheltenham. They flip flopped. All the leagues were closing down. They had to make a decision. 

He thinks the government are waiting to see the general response before laying their cards out

‘If there was an economic package put in place for football that protects clubs and players for a year, you will then get a sensible decision on health. At the moment in time we’re still seeing economic decisions driving whether or not football comes back.’

The fact that the coronavirus crisis is affecting clubs lower down the leagues far more than the Premier League could bring about long-term changes within the game.

Neville thinks the coronavirus crisis could lead the governing bodies to take stock and press the reset button.   

‘It needs to happen. If this doesn’t reset football then nothing will. The Premier League bottom club gets £100m for finishing bottom. If they all took £5m less, that would be £100m more a season for the EFL. If it was £10m it would be £200m. 

‘It’s not huge sums just to distribute further down to EFL clubs, the grassroots… we haven’t got an allied structure. Everyone has separate interests. Even clubs in the EFL have separate interests. We haven’t got a commissioner. I don’t even know who the sports minister is! Have we even heard from him? The other ministers are on TV for the daily briefings. Why isn’t he on TV to discuss this? 

‘I can only assume that behind the scenes they’re working on something very special – a package to protect EFL clubs, PL clubs and the players and a longer-term redistribution of wealth. And drive down costs for fans. This is the crisis that enables us to do it.’ 

There are some players with conditions that could be more at risk of coronavirus than others and that is something that needs to be assessed, Neville added. 

Neville thinks that quarantining players might only be viable for the Premier League not EFL

‘If health comes first, there is only one outcome at this moment in time. How many players have got asthma? How many players have diabetes? Have they assessed all of these things and are they willing to put those people at risk? 

‘If they are, we’ll all turn up and commentate on those matches. Fingers crossed, every day we’ll not have an incident which would be one of our players or a member of staff falling ill.’ 

Neville was also speaking as co-owner of League Two’s Salford City and admitted that they had already run into numerous problems while discussing how to limit player exposure.   

‘We had an hour internal meeting for Salford,’ he explained. ‘This was a call between the manager, medical officer and chairman. When the players come into the stadium or training ground, where do they get changed, how do they travel, how do they stay separate? 

‘All those things bring risk, particularly when you start marking people on corners and doing things you ordinarily would do. We couldn’t get our heads around the idea of our players going back to their families, who had been out mixing, the players go out to get back to normal – there is no way we felt we could control 24 players and their families in June when we know lockdown restrictions will be removed, families will be going to areas where there is the coronavirus.

‘Even if you keep a really sterile environment, there’s no way of keeping it up. If players can see 10 people, we can’t guarantee the other nine people will be in a sterile environment. We can’t guarantee it. You come to the conclusion that the Premier League might have to put players into quarantine for six weeks. 

‘Ok, that is deliverable at Premier League level but not at League One or League Two level. They don’t have the money. We decided L1 and L2 level is undeliverable, that is the conclusion we came to at Salford. That’s why in other countries they have said let’s resume in September.’




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Morata says playing van Dijk is 'like you hit a mountain'

‘When you go against van Dijk it seems like you hit a mountain’: Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata includes Liverpool star among the three toughest defenders he’s faced

  • Alvaro Morata’s career has taken him from Spain, to Italy, to England and back
  • Atletico Madrid striker managed to get the better of Virgil van Dijk this season
  • The 27-year-old also namechecks Giorgio Chiellini and Sergio Ramos in list 

Alvaro Morata has named the three toughest defenders he’s come up against in his career so far – and there’s a place for Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk.

The Spaniard’s playing days so far have taken him from Spain, to Italy, to England and back to his homeland again.

But there are few who have made such an impression on the Atletico Madrid striker as last year’s PFA Player of the Season.

Alvaro Morata said going against Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk is like hitting a mountain

Morata has named the Liverpool centre-back as one of his three toughest opponents

Juventus veteran Giorgio Chiellini and Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos also make the cut. 

‘Chiellini, I don’t know if he does it on purpose, but when he meets me, he always destroys me,’ Morata told AS.

‘Sergio Ramos is also a tough defender, while when you go against [Virgil] Van Dijk it seems like you hit a mountain,’ the forward said.

The 27-year-old also namechecked Spain and former Real Madrid team-mate Sergio Ramos

The Atletico Madrid striker admits that Juventus veteran Giorgio Chiellini ‘always destroys me’

Morata was team-mates with Chiellini in his days at Juventus and has also lined up alongside his Spanish compatriot Ramos during his days at Real Madrid.

The former Chelsea man came up against van Dijk this season when Atleti drew Liverpool in the last-16 of the Champions League.

The 27-year-old was able to get the better of his opposite number this time as Atletico stormed to a 4-2 aggregate victory over the European champions. 




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Coco Gauff says she had depression a year before stunning Wimbledon run

Coco Gauff says she had depression because of the “pressure that she needed to do well” little more than a year before she stunned the tennis world at Wimbledon in 2019.

American Gauff, then 15, reached the last 16 at the All England Club, most notably defeating five-time champion Venus Williams in the first round.

But she says she struggled with a “dark mindset” for a year around 2017-18.

“I was struggling to figure out if this was really what I wanted,” Gauff said.

In a piece for Behind the Racquet, the 16-year-old added: “I always had the results so that wasn’t the issue, I just found myself not enjoying what I loved.”

In qualifying for Wimbledon, Gauff became the youngest player in the Open era to qualify for the main draw.

But she says achieving firsts in the past contributed to her struggles.

“Throughout my life, I was always the youngest to do things, which added hype that I didn’t want,” she said.

“It added this pressure that I needed to do well fast.”

She added: “I realised I needed to start playing for myself and not other people. For about a year I was really depressed. That was the toughest year for me so far.

“When you are in that dark mindset you don’t look on the bright side of things too often, which is the hardest part.

“I don’t think it had much to do with tennis, maybe just about juggling it all. I knew that I wanted to play tennis but didn’t know how I wanted to go about it.”

Such was her unhappiness, Gauff considered taking a year off tennis – a decision she is glad she never made.

“Choosing not to obviously was the right choice but I was close to not going in that direction,” she said.

“I was just lost. It took many moments sitting, thinking and crying. I came out of it stronger and knowing myself better than ever.”

  • Ex-Wimbledon junior champion gives players chance to open up with Behind the Racquet

‘I don’t like being compared to Serena or Venus’

After her Wimbledon run and similar performances at the US and Australian Opens, Gauff says she is “getting used to” the idea of being a role model. However, she admits that brings pressure of its own.

“I know people are watching every move,” she said. “For the most part it is easy because I am always just being myself, not putting up a front, which people seem to be OK with.

“I don’t feel like I have to flip a switch or anything. In the beginning I thought I had to be perfect but I’ve done a lot of soul searching and moved past it.”

But she dislikes comparisons with Serena and Venus Williams, who share 30 Grand Slam singles titles between them and were her inspirations to get into the sport.

“For me, one of the biggest things is to continue breaking barriers,” she said. “At the same time, I don’t like being compared to Serena or Venus.

“First, I am not at their level yet. I always feel like it’s not fair to the Williams sisters to be compared to someone who is just coming up. It just doesn’t feel right yet, I still look at them as my idols.

“With all their accolades, I shouldn’t be put in the same group yet.

“Of course I hope to get to where they are but they are the two women that set the pathway for myself, which is why I can never be them.”

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