Coco Gauff, US Open champion at 19: “Thanks to those who did not believe in me”
NEW YORK – Coco Gauff’s run on the world tour makes forget she’s still a teenager. She is nineteen years old, but it seems older. Because the young North American broke into the circuit at 15 when she beat Venus Williams at Wimbledon, and since then she has been in the elite of the WTA. This Saturday she is became a Grand Slam champion: “I’m on fire!”.
That time, she thanked the eldest Williams in the net. “Thank you for everything you’ve done. Without you I wouldn’t be here,” Gauff told her on Court 1.
Coco Gauff took the microphone from the hand of Mary Joe Fernandez at the US Open 2023 awards ceremony, more than 4 years after the world laid eyes on her, doled out thanks and said she can’t believe she already owns the trophy at the tournament she always followed (there’s a remarkable video of Gauff at age 8 dancing at kids day), the one she visited from a very young age and where she closely followed her idols Serena and Venus Williams.
And another particular thank you, which is not often seen at tennis ceremonies. “Thank you to everyone who did not believe in me.”
Coco Gauff, a girl very connected to Tik Tok, Twitter and Instagram, absorbed for good the many criticisms with her name on social media. “The French Open final broke my heart. And so many wanted to throw water on my fire. Then I won a Masters 1000 and they said that was my peak. Here you go. Now I greet them with this trophy in my arms. I’m on fire,” he fired, and the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium erupted.
This is Coco Gauff in 2012 dancing at the US Open when she was 8 years old.
But today, she looks to win her first Grand Slam as the youngest American US Open finalist since Serena Williams in 1999.
Life is crazy.pic.twitter.com/QAtd1hWkZC
— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) September 9, 2023
“I see the comments. People don’t think I see it but I see it. I’m very aware of tennis Twitter. I know y’all’s usernames, so I know who’s talking trash,” she joked in front of the media.
The youngster lost the 2022 French Open final to Iga Swiatek. There’s a moment to understand Gauff’s success on Saturday in New York. “I don’t know if they caught it on camera but I watched Iga lift up that trophy, and I watched her the whole time. I said, I’m not going to take my eyes off her, because I want to feel what that felt like for her. That felt like craziness today lifting this trophy. It hasn’t sunken in and I think it probably will maybe in a week or so” she said in the press conference after beating favorite Aryna Sabalenka 2-6, 6,3, 6-2.
Sabalenka, incidentally, will be world number one as of Monday thanks to a spectacular season that included the Australian Open title and semis at Roland Garros and Wimbledon before the final in New York. “For sure I’m going to go drinking tonight. Yeah, we’re athletes and we don’t drink a lot of alcohol, but today I’m really going to drink. I think being world number one tomorrow has me not so depressed right now,” said the Belarusian.
“Thank you Billie Jean for fighting for this,” Coco Gauff said to Billie Jean King at the ceremony. She must be really greatful. In the 50th anniversary edition of equal pay, the teenager was handed a check for $3 million – $2,975,000 more than Margaret Court won in 1973.