Coco Gauff Claims U.S. Open Title, Claps Back At Detractors
Nineteen-year-old tennis phenom Coco Gauff claimed her first major victory in decisive fashion at the U.S. Open on Sept. 9.
The victory placed Gauff in the same sentence as her idol, Serena Williams, the last American teenager to win the tournament. As PBS Newshour reported, Gauff took the time after letting out a trademark yell immediately following her game point to thank her haters in the post-match interview.
“Thank you to the people who didn’t believe in me. Like a month ago, I won a (tour) title, and people said I would stop at that. Two weeks ago, I won a (tour) title, and people were saying that was the biggest it was going to get. So three weeks later, I’m here with this trophy right now,” Gauff said. “Tried my best to carry this with grace, and I’ve been doing my best, so honestly, to those who thought they were putting water in my fire: You were really adding gas to it, and now it’s really burning so bright right now.”
Coco is burning bright now 🗣 pic.twitter.com/yWfHHbjNPE
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 9, 2023
Gauff has been regarded as a prodigious talent since she became the youngest player to ever qualify for Wimbledon in 2019, where she lost in the fourth round. In 2022, Gauff made it to the French Open finals. Since a first-round exit in July at Wimbledon, Gauff has won an impressive 18 of her last 19 contests.
At the U.S. Open final, she ignored dropping the first set to Aryna Sabalenka and delivered point after point in the following two sets. Gauff’s athleticism and toughness forced Sabalenka into uncharacteristic miscues along the way to winning 6-2 and 6-3 and winning the match in front of a raucous crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Gauff credited Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler‘s tenacity on the basketball court as an inspiration for her ability to flip a switch and lock in on her game.
Speaking to the New York Daily News, Gauff said, “I learned a lot watching him, everybody counting him out. … You have people that are talented and don’t have the mentality. He has the talent and the mentality. That’s something I learned from [him]. Honestly, that’s part of the reason I’d say that switch I had in the last couple weeks.”
The six-time NBA All-Star attended every one of Gauff’s U.S. Open matches.
“She’s so emotional in a good way,” Butler told ESPN. “She’s a champion, and I love that she’s from the city that I work in. I just like to be here to support her.”