'Your results or your job or how much money you make doesn't define you as a person. As long as you love yourself, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.'
Teenager Coco Gauff may have achieved a major career breakthrough by reaching her first major semi-final at the French Open, but the American believes that finishing high school was more challenging than tackling the red clay in Paris.
The 18-year-old, who dispatched compatriot Sloane Stephens 7-5, 6-2 on Tuesday, graduated from high school last month while preparing for Roland Garros and celebrated by posing in front of the Eiffel Tower.
"Was graduating tougher? Yes, because I know how hard it was to do school and play tennis on the road," Gauff said in an on-court interview.
"Other players in general get out of sight with life and we think tennis is the most important thing in the world. It is not. So getting my high school diploma meant a lot to me."
The world number 23 reached the quarter-finals in Paris last year but went one better this time as she easily negated Stephens's power game to set up a meeting with Italy's Martina Trevisan in the last four.
Gauff, who shot into the limelight when at the age of 15 she became the youngest female player to qualify for Wimbledon, sent a message to other young players, urging them to stop focusing solely on results.
"Your results or your job or how much money you make doesn't define you as a person. As long as you love yourself, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks," she said.