When it was over, Coco Gauff dropped to the Arthur Ashe ground and started to cry.
Gauffe defeated Aryna Sabalenka in the U.S. Open final Saturday, capturing her first Grand Slam championship. Gauff, 19, became the first American teen to win the U.S. Open since Serena Williams in 1999.
WHAT A MOMENT FOR COCO GAUFF#USOPEN CHAMPION 🏆(via @usopen)pic.twitter.com/FAJlgbMUYj— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 9, 2023
WHAT A MOMENT FOR COCO GAUFF#USOPEN CHAMPION 🏆(via @usopen)pic.twitter.com/FAJlgbMUYj
The 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory marked the culmination of a yearslong journey for Gauff, who has long been lauded the future of American tennis but had yet to break through. Gauff picked up some momentum with a pair of tournament victories in August: the Washington Open and the Cincinnati Open.
Gauff had defeated Karolina Muchova, 6-4, 7-5, in the semifinal, while Sabalenka, ranked No. 2 in the world, edged American Madison Keys 0-6, 7-6, 7-6 to advance to the final. The clinching point came when Gauff, on the run to her left, fired the ball past Muchova’s outstretched racket.
“Thank you to the people who didn’t believe in me,” Gauff said afterward. “A month ago I won a 500 title and people said I was going to stop there. Three weeks ago I won a 1000 title and people said that was as good as it was going to get. Three weeks later I’m standing here with the trophy.
“Those who thought they were adding water to my fire, they were really putting gas on it and I am burning so bright right now.”
By defeating Muchova, Gauff became the first American to win the U.S. Open since Sloane Stephens in 2017.
Gauff went into the stands to hug her mother and father after the historic win as social media tributes started to roll in.
“So proud of you,” Michelle Obama wrote on X. “Your hard work and grit was on display throughout this tournament. This is your moment!”