Coco Gauff completed her inspiring run in the 2023 U.S. Open by digging deep to defeat to No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka in three sets in the women’s final on Saturday. Sabalenka overpowered Gauff to win the first set with ease, but the American rallied back to take the final two sets and claim her first Grand Slam title.
Gauff defeated Sabalenka 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 to become U.S. Open champion at 19 years old. It’s hard to believe Gauff is still so young after spending years in the public spotlight, but this is the breakthrough she’s been working for. Gauff’s amazing end-to-end speed and pristine backhand were able to answer every blast from Sabalenka to close the match. She feels like a star in the making in so many ways.
After her championship, Gauff gave an amazing on-court interview with ESPN that hit every note. Gauff thanked Sabalenka for bringing out her best, thanked her family and her coaches, and thanked Billie Jean King for fighting for equality in women’s tennis. Then she thanked her haters.
“Thank you to the people who didn’t believe in me … To those who thought they were putting water on my fire, you were really adding gas to it.” – Coco Gauff pic.twitter.com/XApgRrQBPQ
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) September 9, 2023
“Honestly, thank you the people who didn’t believe in me,” Gauff said on the mic. “A month ago, I won a 500 title, and people said I would stop at that. Two weeks ago, I won a 1000 title, and people were saying that was as big as it was going to get. So three weeks later I’m here with this trophy now. I tried my best to carry this with grace. Those who thought you were putting water on my fire were really adding gas to it, and now I’m really burning so bright.”
It doesn’t get any better than that. Gauff also called out her father for crying.
Coco: “Today was the first time I’ve ever seen my Dad cry. He doesn’t want me to tell you that but he got caught in 4K” pic.twitter.com/Zg0GQJSKYA
— CJ Fogler account may or may not be notable (@cjzero) September 9, 2023
Watch full highlights of Gauff-Sabalenka in the women’s U.S. Open final here:
This feels like it’s going to be the first of many Grand Slam titles for Gauff. She is poised to become one of the biggest stars in American sports, picking up the mantle from Serena Williams as the defining player of her generation. She’s just the fourth American teenager to win a major title in the Open era, and youngest American U.S. Open champion since Williams won as a 17-year-old in 1999.
After the match, Gauff said the Williams sisters are the reason she had the trophy today:
Coco Gauff says Serena & Venus Williams are the reason she has the US Open trophy today:
“They’re the reason why I have this trophy today. They’ve allowed me to believe in this dream. Growing up, there weren’t too many black tennis players dominating the sport. It was just them… pic.twitter.com/IJN1viI4nx
— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) September 10, 2023
Gauff’s poise both on and off the court is remarkable. What a gift it is to be able to witness her rise. This is just the start.