After she delivered the backhand shot that won the U.S. Open Finals, tennis star Coco Gauff collapsed on the hard court of Arthur Ashe Stadium to the flourish of thunderous applause. After saluting her opponent, the current top-ranked Aryna Sabalenka, she ran into the stands to share a tearful embrace with her parents. During her victory speech, she noted how this was the first time she saw her father cry.
“You got caught in 4K, he thinks he’s so hard,” Gauff said. “My Dad took me to this tournament watching Venus and Serena (Williams) compete, so it’s really incredible to be on this stage.”
Through all the pomp and peasantry of the victory and the trophy ceremony, Gauff made sure to kneel and say a prayer, keeping her faith in Jesus Christ a focal point in her life.
“I don’t pray for results, I just ask that I get the strength to give it my all,” Gauff said. “I’m so blessed in this life so I’m thankful for this moment.”
Gauff’s performances have put her in the center of the tennis world throughout the summer. Her success at previous tournaments has led to her historic run at the U.S. Open.
With her first Grand Slam title, Gauff, 19, becomes the first teenager to win the U.S. Open title since Serena Williams in 1999. Gauff defeated Sabalenka 2-6,6-3,6-2, Gauff came into the matchup knowing that would be a “problem-solving, tough” match.
“You’re always playing on your back foot, honestly, against [Sabalenka], so I was just trying my best,” Gauff said, “The momentum did shift a little bit in that when I passed her on a backhand cross-court pass and I got the crowd involved and after that, I feel like I just knew I was coming home with this.”
Dropping the first set did not give her a negative outlook on the match.
“I said “I’m gonna give it my all and whatever happens, happens,”” Gauff said. “Even on that match point, 40-love, technically the match is on my racquet, it didn’t feel like I had won, it was crazy. I was just trying my best to just focus on the point ahead of me.”
Gauff made headlines during her first-round match against Laura Siegemund when she advocated for herself to tennis umpire Marijana Veljovic after Siegemund took extended amounts of time between serves without punishment. Gauff defeated her 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
“It got to the point where [Siegemund] was doing it a lot on my serve and my issue with that was the ref was calling the score a couple seconds after the point was finished so it made it look like I was serving abnormally fast,” Gauff said after her first-round win. “I was finally happy when the time violation came but obviously on my serve, I was like [Siegemund] has to be ready when I’m serving.”
Prior to her U.S. Open victory, Gauff won the DC Open after defeating Maria Sakkari in straight sets. The victory was her fourth WTA Tour singles title in her career. She is the youngest women’s player to win the DC Open.
Gauff also defeated Liudmila Samsonova and Belinda Bencic to clinch the DC Open title. Her main goals are to win matches “the right way” and to establish a more consistent game style.
“I feel like I have the foundation in my game, now it’s building around that, It’s building the house essentially,” Gauff said. “I have the land and I need to build the house on top of it, make it as extravagant and big and pretty as possible.”
After the DC Open, Gauff won the Cincinnati Open after defeating Karolina Muchova 6-3,6-4. The summer did not come without its challenges as Gauff was knocked out in the first round of Wimbledon by Sofia Kenin 4-6,6-4,2-6. Gauff also lost to Iga Swiatek in the French Open quarterfinals in straight sets. Gauff understood how the setbacks make the accomplishments all the better.
“The French Open moment, I don’t know if they caught it on camera, but I watched [Swiatek] lift up that trophy and I watched her the whole time,” Gauff said. “I said “I’m not going to take my eyes off her because I want to feel what that felt like for her” and that felt like craziness today lifting this trophy.”
Gauff turned pro at 14 years old in 2018. She remarked on how she envisioned winning a Grand Slam during her formative years while watching youth compete at Arthur Ashe Kid’s Day.
“When I was 13 or 14 when I played U.S. Open juniors, I watched the men’s final that year,” Gauff said. “So I had those envisions of myself then.”