Breanna Stewart’s signature Puma shoe line with made a surprise appearance at the 2023 US Open.

Leylah Fernandez, a former US Open singles finalist, made a run to the quarterfinals in the doubles bracket with partner Taylor Townsend. During the run, she played in Stewart’s Stewie 2 sneakers.

The 21-year-old Canadian previously wore Asics in 2021, then switched to Swiss athletic shoe company On’s Roger Federer sneakers in 2022. She became the first player other than Federer, who is an investor in the brand, to wear the shoes on the court.

During the 2023 US Open, Fernandez made the switch to Puma’s Stewie 2, a basketball shoe. Stewart responded to Fernandez’s choice Thursday, writing on social media: “Be like water,” a reference to the blue-patterned “Water” colorway sported by the tennis star.

Stewart and the New York Liberty are gearing up for the start of their WNBA playoff run. The second-seeded Liberty are facing the seventh-seeded Washington Mystics in the first round, with the first game set for 7:30 p.m. ET Friday.

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.

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!”

The US Open final is set, with Coco Gauff set to face off against Aryna Sabalenka for the final major title of the year.

It’s the teenage sensation against the impending world No. 1, as Sabalenka will take the top spot when the new rankings come out next week. Gauff, for her part, will move up in the rankings as well — and the 19-year-old American could even attain a career-high ranking of No. 3 with her first Grand Slam win.

Based on their head-to-head history, Gauff comes out on top, having won three matches over Sabalenka and losing just two. But their only matchup this year – at Indian Wells in March – went Sabalenka’s way, with the 25-year-old Belarusian claiming a straight-sets win.

Sabalenka and Gauff will face off for the title at 4 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN.

Why Coco Gauff will win

When Gauff was just 15 years old and breaking onto the scene at Wimbledon, Venus Williams looked at her and declared: “The sky’s the limit.” Now, Gauff has finally, seemingly, put it all together.

Watching the 19-year-old at this year’s US Open has been like watching someone come into their own right before your eyes. You’ve seen it with Carlos Alcaraz. With Gauff, it felt inevitable. And while a coaching change has aided in Gauff’s journey, she’s been knocking on this door for a while. Last summer, she made her first Grand Slam final at the French Open but admittedly felt overwhelmed by the moment. She just hasn’t had all of the pieces snap into place – until now.

We have been spoiled by the dominance of players like Serena and Venus, Roger and Rafa. So with Gauff, there has been a sense of impatience, of wanting to see what we know Gauff is capable of – what Gauff knows what she is capable of. So: Has she finally done it? Has she finally broken through?

That’s a lot of pressure for a teenager. Many 19-year-olds are spending their Saturdays in fraternity basements or studying for midterms. Gauff will spend hers on one of tennis’ biggest stages.

This US Open final will not make or break Gauff’s career. The reality is, she has a long one ahead of her, one which likely will include a stint at the top of the world rankings. This run is only the beginning. We can’t expect her to attain the greatness of Serena Williams — but that’s because she’s Coco Gauff. She’s writing her own story, her own journey, and this, right here, is one of the chapters.

Gauff will win Saturday because she’s finally unlocked her potential. She’s been playing her opponents in a way that she hasn’t before – at times allowing them to beat themselves and knowing exactly when to apply the pressure needed. (Even if Jelena Ostapenko somehow expected more out of Gauff after a 6-0, 6-2 beatdown). She’s shown impeccable poise and wisdom throughout the tournament, a level of maturity that some 19-year-olds can only dream of. There’s never been a moment where she’s gotten too far ahead of herself.

A first round exit at Wimbledon may have been a stumbling block for others, but it pushed Gauff to be better. Since then, she’s won 17 of her last 18 matches and has taken home two WTA titles. Everything, it seems, has fallen into place, and the game is clicking. It’s one of those things that you can just see when watching her play: The way that she seems to have total control of the game, no matter what the score is. She’s everywhere on the court, all at once.

Why Aryna Sabalenka will win

Sabalenka knows she faces a tough test in the US Open final. But she’s ready for the fight.

“Going into this final, I think I just have to focus on myself and prepare myself for another fight,” she said Thursday. “You just have to be there and you have to fight for it.”

She knows the crowd will be behind Coco Gauff. But she’s not about to be the world No. 1 for no reason. On Thursday, she was blanked in the first set – the first 6-0 win in a US Open semifinal since 2013 – and down 5-3 in the second set to Madison Keys. But she never gave up the fight. She’s just the third woman in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam semifinal after losing the first set 6-0, joining Steffi Graf (1992 Roland Garros) and Ana Ivanovic (2008 Australian Open).

“I was all over the place,” Sabalenka said after the match. “I was just, like, ‘What can I do?’ Like, she’s playing unbelievable, just, like, crushing everything. I’m not able to do anything; I had zero control in the match.

“I just [kept] telling myself, I mean, ‘OK, there is going to be days like this [where] somebody’s going to just play their best tennis. You just have to keep trying, keep staying there and keep pushing it. Maybe you’ll be able to turn around this game.'”

Sabalenka’s biggest opponent has always been herself. And on Thursday, she won that battle, winning a tiebreak in the second set and again in the third to reach her first US Open final. Already a Grand Slam champion after winning the Australian Open title earlier this year, Sabalenka has been on a roll. Semifinal appearances at the French Open and Wimbledon were both career bests. She’s the first player since Serena Williams in 2016 to reach the semifinals in all four majors in the same season.

There’s not been anyone better on the tour this year than Sabalenka, not even current No. 1 Iga Swiatek.

On paper, Sabalenka is the better player. She’s weathered the biggest tests of her career and come out ahead. By no means will Saturday’s final be easy, and in fact it might prove to be one of the best major finals of the year, but Sabalenka has what it takes to weather whatever Gauff may throw at her and take home her second title of the year.

Coco Gauff has one regret that she may never be able to get over.

The 19-year-old made her first US Open final with a straight-sets win over Karolina Muchova, becoming the youngest American to reach the final at the Grand Slam since Serena Williams did it in 1999 at age 17. Williams went on to win the first of her 23 major singles titles.

So it seems a little bit like fate that, one year after Williams retired at the US Open, another American is following in her footsteps. Gauff became the first American teenager to reach the US Open semifinals since Williams in 2001.

And both Gauff and U.S. men’s player Ben Shelton, 20, have made more history. This year marked the first time multiple Americans aged 20 or younger have made it to the semifinals of the same Grand Slam since Venus and Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2000.

Yet while some might see Gauff as the face and the future of American tennis, she is in excellent company. At this year’s US Open, multiple Americans have made deep runs — including 28-year-old Madison Keys, who lost to Aryna Sabalenka in the other semifinal.

“I don’t think I’m carrying American tennis. I don’t think I will,” Gauff told ESPN. “We have so many compatriots who are doing well.

“Serena is Serena. She’s the GOAT. I’d hope to do half of what she did. But I’m not gonna compare myself to her. She’s someone I look up to. Being in the same stat line as her means a lot to me. She’s my idol.”

Still, Gauff – who never once played against Williams professionally – has just one regret.

“The only regret I’ll have for the rest of my life is not being able to play her,” she said. “There were so many tournaments where if we won an extra round and didn’t lose, I would’ve played her. I’m still happy to just be a product of her legacy.”

Naomi Osaka is planning to stay busy in 2024.

The four-time Grand Slam champion gave birth to her first child, daughter Shai, in July. While she has not played in 2023, she plans to make her comeback next year — and when she does, she wants to up her game.

Osaka, 25, aims to make her return at the Australian Open, she told ESPN on Wednesday. And from there, she will be playing in “way more tournaments than I used to play.”

“I think some people will be happy with that,” she said, noting that she trained as much as she could during pregnancy, including hitting with Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf.

“I think it’s because I realized that I don’t know how the beginning of the year is going to go for me. I don’t know the level of play and I think I have to ease into it. So at the very least, I’m going to set myself up for a very good end of the year.”

The former world No. 1 has won the Australian Open twice, including her most recent major title in 2021. Osaka said that her pregnancy, which she announced at the beginning of this year, helped her realize that she “definitely” missed competing.

“I’ve been watching matches and I’m like, ‘I wish I was playing too,’” Osaka said. “But I’m in this position now and I’m very grateful. I really love my daughter a lot, but I think it really fueled a fire in me.”

Jessica Pegula set the record straight after getting eliminated from the US Open singles tournament on Monday.

The No. 3-ranked player lost in straight sets to fellow American and World No. 17 Madison Keys in the Round of 16. During her post-match press conference, Pegula responded directly to a journalist, refuting a tweet by The Tennis Podcast that she had left the court crying.

“Were you guys the ones that tweeted that I cried when I walked off the court?” she asked. “Someone said I walked off the court in tears. I most definitely was not crying.

“It just sounded really sad and I was like, ‘I definitely wasn’t crying. I just got waxed in like an hour. I gotta go play dubs [doubles] in an hour.’”

Later on Monday, The Tennis Podcast tweeted a clarification, saying it had erred in assuming Pegula was crying when she touched her eye.

Not longer after the loss to Keys, Pegula returned to Arthur Ashe Stadium with doubles partner Coco Gauff. The Americans defeated Marta Kostyuk and Elena-Gabriela Ruse in straight sets to advance to the women’s doubles quarterfinals.

Pegula will also play in the mixed doubles quarterfinal on Tuesday with partner Austin Krajicek as the top-ranked mixed doubles team.

Iga Swiatek’s US Open run has come to an end.

The defending champion and world No. 1 lost in three sets in the Round of 16 Sunday to Jelena Ostapenko, who remains undefeated against Swiatek in her career. The loss means that Swiatek’s stay atop the WTA world rankings will end next week. Current No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka will overtake the top spot for the first time.

“I don’t know why I played that bad,” Swiatek said. “I’m not happy with my performances on hard courts this year. But overall, I did a pretty good job at maintaining my level. I’m happy I’m going to have time to practice because I miss that.

“I feel like I’m progressing as a player, but I have more skills. This season was tough and intense.”

Swiatek’s 75 consecutive weeks atop the world rankings in her first stint ranks third in history. Only Steffi Graf (186 weeks) and Martina Hingis (80 weeks) were atop the rankings for longer.

According to OptaJack, during that time Swiatek also holds the record for WTA titles (nine), finals (12), matches won (97), winning ratio (85.5 percent) and top-10 defeats (17).

“I wouldn’t say [I feel] relief,” Swiatek said, when asked about relinquishing the top spot in the rankings. “There are plenty of things that I know I should have done differently. Maybe I’m not mature enough yet to do that. I’m really working hard to not think about this stuff a lot.

“Sometimes when you force yourself not to think about stuff, the result is the opposite. I’m really happy that I have smart people around me and they are telling me how to do it, and they are guiding me. But it’s on me to actually make it happen.”

Still, the 22-year-old Polish star said that the next time she tops the rankings, she will do some things differently.

“Because yeah, it was a little bit stressful,” Swiatek said. “And it shouldn’t be. I mean, tennis is stressful overall, but I should embrace it a little bit more. And I’ll do it differently next time.”

Caroline Wozniacki is back playing tennis – and she’s back to winning.

In just her third event since coming out of retirement, Wozniacki downed world No. 11 Petra Kvitova at the US Open. It’s her first top-20 win as a mom, and her first win over a top-20 opponent since beating Kvitova in 2018.

“This couldn’t be better,” Wozniacki said after the match. “It’s a dream come true. If you had asked me three years ago, I would have said I’ll never be back here, playing on this court. To be back and to beat the world No. 11 feels very, very special.”

She’s now into the third round at Flushing Meadows, a place where she’s found success throughout her career. She finished as the runner-up at the US Open in 2009, when she lost to Kim Clijsters, and again in 2014, when she lost to good friend Serena Williams.

Her 122 major match wins in her career is the fourth-most among active women, behind Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Kvitova, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Wozniacki plans to hang out with her kids Thursday before preparing to face Jennifer Brady in the third round Friday.

“I love New York. I love this court. I love everything about this city and playing here,” Wozniacki said. “Absolutely, as soon as I came here over a week ago, I already — instantly — felt so comfortable on these courts and knew that I could play some great tennis and I would be dangerous in the draw.”

She also noted that she was “thrilled” to once again have the opportunity to play in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“I didn’t think I was ever going to play on one of those courts again in the US Open, especially a night session,” she said. “It just feels pretty incredible to be out there and winning a match like that.”

Laura Siegemund hit back at the US Open crowd for showing her a lack of respect during her three-set loss to Coco Gauff in the first round of the Grand Slam tournament.

During the match, each player approached the chair umpire at least once with complaints. Siegemund did so twice, including after she received a time violation in the third set. Siegemund repeatedly took her time getting ready both on and off the serve, to which the American Gauff took offense and the crowd responded by booing.

“They treated me like I was a bad person,” Siegemund said of the fans during her post-match press conference. “Would I enjoy it more if you played a great shot and the people would scream and give you the respect you deserved for your performance in that moment? Yes, you enjoy it more.”

At different points during the match, the fans in Arthur Ashe Stadium made noises during Siegemund’s serves, calling “Time!” when she ran down the serve clock.

Siegemund complained to umpire Marijana Veljovic about the crowd, but there wasn’t much to be done.

“I never did anything against the audience,” she said. “I stayed calm. I never made — not even a gesture — against the audience. And they had no respect for me. They had no respect for the way I played. They have no respect for the player that I am. They have no respect for tennis, for good tennis. This is something that I have to say hurts really bad.”

Siegemund, a 35-year-old German and two-time Grand Slam doubles champion, said she was proud of how she played the match.

“As a tennis player, you are a performer,” she said. “You owe the people. … At the end of the day I go home and I look at myself and I can say I did a great job. But did I get anything from the people for that? I didn’t.

“They treated me bad. They treated me like I was a cheater. Like I was trying sneaky ways to win this match or something. They treated me like I was a bad person. But you know there are people who are throwing racquets, who are screaming, who are like making bad gestures toward the audience. I did not one moment in the whole match, and there was a lot of tension going on. Not one moment I did anything.

“I was just slow. That’s something in the rules, I get my time violation, that’s fine.”

Following the match, Gauff — who went viral for approaching the umpire — said she didn’t regret her response and wished she had said something about Siegemund’s delay tactics earlier. Former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were in attendance for the match, and Gauff said Michelle praised her afterward speaking up for herself.

“I wasn’t sure if I was in the right or not until it, like, happened multiple times. Then I was like, OK, I know I’m in the right,” the 19-year-old said. “For me, I try my best not to let my emotions take over myself. I wanted to express my frustration but also being censored. … I was trying to best communicate how I was feeling to the referee. … I’d still say everything I said in that moment again.”

Gauff is moving onto the third round of the US Open after defeating Mirra Andreeva in straight sets on Wednesday.

Coco Gauff cracked jokes Monday night following her tense win in the first round of the US Open at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

When asked how she would describe the match, Gauff responded with one word: “Slow.” Then she broke into a smile.

No. 6 seed Gauff and qualifier Laura Siegemund butted heads over the pace of play throughout the entirety of the nearly three-hour match. Tempers boiled over in the third set, when Gauff approached the umpire to express her frustrations over Siegemund dawdling both on and off the serve.

“She’s never ready when I’m serving,” Gauff protested. “She went over to talk like four times. You gave her a time violation once. How is this fair? … I’m going a normal speed. Ask any ref here. … I’ve been quiet the whole match. … Now it’s ridiculous. I don’t care what she’s doing on her serve, but [on] my serve, she has to be ready.”

While Gauff wound up dropping that game, Siegemund later was docked a point for delaying the game by going to her towel – a penalty that she then protested. Still, the penalty helped widen Gauff’s lead in the third set, and the 19-year-old would go on to win the third set and take the match, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Afterward, Gauff explained her frustrations, noting that while Siegemund had been going over time “since the first set,” Gauff remained patient despite the umpire not taking action. Eventually, though, it reached to the point where the crowd started to chime in and yell “time” whenever Siegemund ran over.

While Gauff said she doesn’t “like confrontation all that much,” in the third set the situation became too much to ignore. If she could do the match over again, she “would’ve said something earlier,” but she doesn’t regret talking to the ref the way that she did.

“I wasn’t sure if I was in the right or not until it, like, happened multiple times,” Gauff said, referring to Siegemund’s delay tactics between points. “Then I was like, OK, I know I’m in the right. … For me, I try my best not to let my emotions take over myself. I wanted to express my frustration but also being censored. … I was trying to best communicate how I was feeling to the referee. … I’d still say everything I said in that moment again.”