Coco Gauff hailed Serena and Venus Williams for paving the way for her US Open triumph after the 19-year-old’s rapid ascent to Grand Slam glory was completed on Saturday night. The American showed class and sheer resilience to battle back from a set down against new world number-one Aryna Sabalenka and lift the trophy at a jubilant Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City.
Gauff had her back against the wall on multiple occasions throughout the tournament, but showed her resolve time and again and Saturday was no different against the Belarussian, who took the first set 6-2. The signs were ominous, but Gauff showed she is not only blessed with immense talent but also the grit required to deliver on the biggest stage.
She won the second and third sets 6-3, 6-2 as Gauff realised a lifelong dream of winning her home slam, four years on from her emergence as a 15-year-old at Wimbledon. In the process, she emulated Venus and Serena, her childhood idols who won US Open aged 18 and 20 respectively, and Gauff was asked about their impact on her career in the aftermath of her maiden Slam victory.
“It’s crazy (to see my name on the trophy with theirs),” Gauff said. “I mean, they’re the reason why I have this trophy today, to be honest. They have allowed me to believe in this dream, you know, growing up. You know, there wasn’t too many just Black tennis players dominating the sport. It was literally, at that time when I was younger, it was just them that I can remember.
“Obviously more came because of their legacy. So it made the dream more believable. But all the things that they had to go through, they made it easier for someone like me to do this.
“I mean, you look back at the history with Indian Wells, with Serena, all she had to go through, Venus fighting for equal pay. Yeah, it’s crazy and it’s an honour to be in that kind of line-up as them. And I’m looking at it, and she’s won this a lot of times.”
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Gauff has a long way to go if she is to emulate Serena and Venus’ career success, with the pair winning 23 and seven Grand Slam titles respectively. But Gauff has delivered on her early promise, and at such a young age it would be foolish to bet against her amassing a huge collection of silverware when her career is done.
Two weeks of thrilling tennis will conclude at Flushing Meadows on Sunday night when Novak Djokovic chases an incredible 24th Grand Slam title when he faces an in-form Daniil Medvedev in the men’s final on Arthur Ashe – with the Russian beating Djokovic on the same court in the final two years ago.
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