Coco Gauff says Serena and Venus Williams are the reason she has won the US Open.
American teenager Gauff picked up her first grand slam title at her home major, coming from a set down to beat Aryna Sabalenka 2-6 6-3 6-2.
Gauff’s father Corey used to take his young daughter to Flushing Meadows to watch the Williams sisters in action.
And the gilded duo, with eight US Open titles between them, inspired an eight-year-old Gauff, filmed dancing in the stands inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, to follow in their footsteps.
Coco Gauff went from being a kid in the stands to a US Open champion.
Anything is possible. pic.twitter.com/1kce1ANO6E
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 9, 2023
“It’s crazy. I mean, they’re the reason why I have this trophy, to be honest,” said Gauff.
“They have allowed me to believe in this dream, you know, growing up. You know, there wasn’t too many 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 (when she was booed in 2001), all she had to go through, Venus fighting for equal pay.
“Yeah, it’s just, like, it’s crazy and it’s an honour to be in that same kind of line-up as them.”
Gauff’s day of destiny saw her became the first American teenager to triumph at Flushing Meadows since Serena Williams in 1999.
The latter’s final farewell to tennis at the same championships last year left a colossal void in tennis in the US.
So it felt entirely appropriate that Gauff, the heir apparent to the 23-time grand slam winner, stepped into her shoes 12 months later.
Gauff used her acceptance speech to thank “the people who didn’t believe in me”.
— Coco Gauff (@CocoGauff) September 10, 2023
The 19-year-old was at a low ebb after losing in the first round at Wimbledon, but she has since won 18 of her past 19 matches and picked up three titles, including the big one in the Big Apple.
“I would say for sure a little bit after the Wimbledon loss, honestly I just felt people were like, ‘oh, she’s hit her peak and she’s done’. It was all hype,” she added.
“I see the comments. People don’t think I see it but I see it. I’m very aware of tennis Twitter.
“Honestly after that, I was like, OK, I have a lot of work to do. So I think 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.”