Cori "Coco" Gauff's captivating run at Wimbledon concluded in a fourth-round loss Monday, but it felt more like a beginning than an end for the 15-year-old tennis phenom.
"I woke up, and I'm still living a dream,'' she told Savannah Guthrie from Wimbledon on TODAY Tuesday. "I'm walking on the street, people are asking for pictures. That's just really crazy, and I don't think I'll ever believe it, to be honest."
The teen from Delray Beach, Florida, made it all the way to the fourth round after becoming the youngest player to ever qualify for the main draw at Wimbledon.
She lost 6-3, 6-3 to seventh-seeded Simona Halep of Romania, bringing an end to a magical run in her first Grand Slam tournament that included a victory over her idol, American star Venus Williams.
Gauff, who entered the tournament ranked No. 313 in the world, had to win three qualifying matches just to make it to the main draw as a wild card, where she drew Williams, 39, in her first match.
"I kind of had a feeling I would play one of the Williams sisters, but I was still very shocked,'' Gauff said. "I didn't believe it at first until I actually went on the Wimbledon app and looked at the draw.
"A lot of people said, 'Were you nervous, are you mad?' I was like, 'No, I'm super excited.' It was always a dream of mine to play Venus, and I never thought it would be so soon."
After defeating Williams 6-4, 6-4, Gauff shared a moment with her across the net that would've seemed surreal only a few weeks earlier.
"The night before I kind of planned out what I was gonna say, but I didn't think I'd be on the winning end, to be honest,'' Gauff said.
Gauff's stunning win drew praise from the likes of Michelle Obama, Snoop Dogg, Jaden Smith and Tina Knowles, the mother of Beyoncé.
"Each and every one has been special, but former first lady Michelle Obama, that was so surprising to me,'' Gauff said. "I've looked up to her so long, and having her in the White House and seeing a black woman in the White House was definitely special for me as a little girl."
Gauff's parents, Corey and Candi, also became minor celebrities during her run for their ecstatic celebrations in the stands.
"It's kind of weird because my mom, she's never really like that,'' Gauff said. "We were talking about it last night like, 'What possessed you to even do that?' It looks so funny. I don't know if she likes it or not, but I'm definitely loving it."
Gauff's most impressive win of the tournament came when she saved two match points and came back from a 5-2 deficit to beat Slovenia's Polona Hercog in the third round.
"I was just telling myself to go for my shots,'' she said. "It's either now or never. I always believe in myself even when the (score) doesn't say so."
Gauff hopes this is just the start of a career that puts her name up there with the legends of the game.
"I have my ultimate goal, which is to be the greatest,'' she said. "A lot of people kind of try to say, 'Oh, that won't happen,' but I really do believe that you should really dream high and dream to the highest possibility because anything is possible."