The American, still only 15-years-old, was forced to go through the qualifying rounds in Washington D.C. with her world ranking still at 143. She defeated compatriot Maegan Manasse and Hiroko Kuwata over the weekend and will open her main draw campaign against Zarina Diyas.
Gauff is making her first appearance since her fourth round showing at Wimbledon – when she became the youngest player to reach the second week at SW19 since Jennifer Capriati in 1991 – but admits her focus hasn’t changed.
She told the media at the Citi Open: “My dreams have not changed. They will always be the same until the time comes when I fulfil them.
“I want to be number one in the world, win Grand Slams. My overall goal is to be the best player in history.”
'I have not changed'
The American’s popularity has spiked since she stunned Venus Williams in the first round at Wimbledon before falling to eventual champion Simona Halep in the last 16, with her followers on Instagram rocketing from 30,000 to 386,000 inside the last month.
She joked: “I should check if I have the world record for the biggest rise in followers. I'm getting closer and closer to Beyoncé.
“I feel that I, as a person, have not really changed. Everything outside has changed. That is the difference.”
Pressure has predominantly came from outside, however, with the 15-year-old admitting that her father, Corey, is handling her progress with care.
Gauff added: “My father tries to space the tournaments I play so that I have time to train well. Even when I was a junior, I never played as many tournaments as other tennis players.
“Throughout my life I have never played many tournaments because he has always wanted me to have time to develop.”
For now, Gauff is inhibited by the WTA’s age eligibility rule, which restricts the American to only ten professional tournaments until her 16th birthday. However, it is clear she would welcome a relaxation of the rule: “I understand the rules. They are made to protect young players. It is clear that I would like to play in more tournaments. I wish they could adjust the rule, even if it is minimal.”