New US Open champion Coco Gauff insisted those who doubted she would ever fulfil her potential and win a Grand Slam only added to her desire to prove them all wrong.
Gauff rallied from a set down to beat Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka and claim her first Grand Slam title in front of adoring home fans.
Her triumph at Flushing Meadows was the 12th in a row and the 18th in her past 19 matches.
The win delivered on years of enormous expectations hoisted upon the American’s shoulders after she became the youngest to qualify for the main draw at the All England Club at 15 years old.
After losing to Iga Swiatak in last year’s French Open final, she fell at the first-round stage in Wimbldeon but found a new gear, producing the best tennis of her career as she picked up a victory in Washington and secured her first WTA 1000 title in Cincinnati, before becoming the first American to win a US Open singles title since Sloane Stephens in 2017.
“I just want to thank all the people who didn’t believe in me,” Gauff said. “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 the biggest it was going to get, but three weeks later, I’m here with this trophy.
“I’ve tried my best to carry this with grace and I’ve been doing my best so honestly, to those who thought you were putting water on my fire, you’re really adding gas to it. And now I’m really burning so bright right now.”
She added in her post-match press conference: “I felt like I lost a little bit of the dream as this journey has gone on – for sure, after the Wimbledon loss. I felt like people were saying ‘Oh, she’s hit her peak and she’s done. It was all hype’. I see the comments. People don’t think I see it but I see it. I know who’s talking trash.
“So this means a lot to me. I wish I could give this trophy to my past self so she can be like ‘All those tears are for this moment’.”
Getting so close in the French Open added even further motivation, with the 19-year-old getting a taste of what going for a Grand Slam title could mean.
“I watched Iga lift up that trophy, and I watched her the whole time. I said to myself ‘I’m not going to take my eyes off her’, because I want to feel what that felt like for her,” said Gauff.
“I think people were putting a lot of pressure on me to win. I felt that at 15 I had to win a Slam at 15. I think that was not the mistake, because everything led to this moment so there was no mistakes.
“I think the pressure has been a little bit taken off a little bit, and I still am hungry for more. I’m just going to enjoy this and try not to look into the future.”
Gauff follows in the footsteps of Althea Gibson, Serena and Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens and Naomi Osaka to be the latest Black woman to win the title in New York and now she wants to continue the legacy.
“I remember Sloane winning this trophy in 2017 and I lost in the juniors. It was an inspiring moment for me to see her win because I grew up watching her and I have known Sloane since I was 10 years old,” said Gauff.
“Obviously Serena and Venus, words can’t describe what they meant to me. I hope that I’m a continuation of a legacy. I hope another girl can see this and believe they can do it and hopefully their name can be on this trophy too.”
After offering her opponent a hug, Gauff burst into tears and embraced her parents in the stands.
It’s a reminder that “dreams come true” with Gauff unable to put her victory into words but instead using Alicia Keys as her inspiration, adding: “There is a song lyric that I want to use for my Instagram caption. It goes, “Concrete jungle, where dreams are made of. Yeah, that lyric is true. New York City is the city where dreams are made of.”
Gauff continues to make history
Coco Gauff is the third American teenager to win the US Open women’s singles title, joining Serena Williams (1999) and Tracy Austin (1979, ’81).
She’s also the 12th teenage US Open women’s singles champion in the Open Era (since 1968) and the fifth since 2000.
Gauff will become the top-ranked American woman in singles on Monday at No 3 in the world and will also share the world No 1 doubles ranking with Jessica Pegula.
Sabalenka will finally see her name atop the world rankings on Monday, and she wants it to stay there.
“It’s good that I can say I have been world No 1, but I really would like to finish the year as world No 1,” Sabalenka said.
“That’s why I’m still positive and I’m still motivated.”
Tennis is back on Sky Sports
Tennis is back on Sky, adding to the existing sports portfolio and reaffirming the broadcaster as the home of live sport in the UK & Ireland.
Sky Sports’ new mixed reality studio features multiple custom built LED screens, integrated light ‘sabres’, and an open canopy roof, making the space alive with colour and energy to reflect the vibrancy of the last Grand Slam of the year.
With integrated AR capabilities, a versatile LED floor, and a ‘fourth wall’, the viewer will be transported to the Arthur Ashe Stadium in a 360-degree immersive environment. Our tennis experts will take the viewer into the eyes of the players for expert Hawkeye analysis and insight as the tournament progresses.
The technology involved allows us to add an entire new dimension and will bring customers closer to the action.
Highlights of matches will be available across Sky Sports TV and our social media platforms.
Video highlights will also be available of the Sky Sports website and app, where there will also be a daily live text commentary on the Sky Sports website and app, as well as live scores, reports, analysis and features.