In the final round of the women’s US Open, Coco Gauff, the 10th ranked player in the world, made a stunning comeback to defeat Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus with a score of 2-6 6-3 6-2.
The star-studded crowd erupted with applause after Gauff’s home-turf victory at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens. The win is 19-year-old Gauff’s first career grand slam and makes her the first American teenager to win the US Open since 23-time major champion Serena Williams took the title in 1999.
“I am currently in a state of shock,” expressed an emotional Gauff following her victory. “The challenges and hardships that God has put me through have made this moment even more special than I could have ever imagined.”
She expressed gratitude towards her loved ones, her colleagues, and those who doubted her.
Attempting to secure her second major championship of the year, Sabalenka, who will soon hold the top ranking in women’s tennis, easily took the first set by breaking Gauff’s serve three times and winning 6-2 in a commanding manner.
Despite being in a packed crowd and hearing chants of “Let’s go Coco,” Gauff stepped up her game in the second set. She managed to break her opponent’s serve and ultimately win the set 6-3, setting up a decisive third set.
Gauff, who was playing with determination, gained dominance in the third set by securing a double break and getting closer to her first grand slam victory. Despite Sabalenka winning the next two games, Gauff ultimately won the match and joined the ranks of 12 other teenagers to have claimed the US Open title.
“I was unsure, but I realized that if I didn’t put in my full effort, I had no chance of winning,” Gauff explained her motivation for bouncing back after losing the first set.
During her journey to the final, the athlete was defeated in the first set of a match on two occasions. The first time was in the initial round against Laura Siegemund, and the second time was in the third round against Elise Mertens.
After winning, Gauff is now the third American teenager to hold the US Open championship, alongside Williams and Tracy Austin. Her ranking in WTA singles will rise to No. 3, and she will share the No. 1 spot in doubles with fellow American Jessica Pegula.
Following her triumph, Gauff fell to the floor before rising to embrace Sabalenka. Afterwards, Gauff was overwhelmed with feelings and knelt down to savor the moment.
During her post-match speech, Gauff playfully teased her father while expressing gratitude towards her family. “I want to thank my parents first,” she said. “It was actually the first time I saw my dad shed a tear. He didn’t want me to share that with you all, but he got caught on camera!”
According to Gauff, her parents provided support when she was overly critical of herself and overly focused on winning or losing.
In the past, I would equate my success in tennis to my own value as a person. If I lost a match, I would feel like I wasn’t good enough. However, my parents’ constant reminder that they love me unconditionally has greatly impacted me.
When questioned about the importance of being the most recent Black woman to claim the women’s singles championship, Gauff acknowledged the influence of past victors like Venus Williams and Serena Williams, who “cleared the path for me to be in this position.” She also mentioned being motivated by Sloane Stephens’ triumph at the US Open in 2017.
She expressed her wish for other girls to see this and have faith in their ability to achieve it. She also hopes that their name will also be added to this trophy.
Despite the defeat, the Belarusian athlete will claim the top spot in the WTA singles rankings on Monday, putting an end to Iga Świątek’s 75-week reign.
Sabalenka praised her opponent, expressing her desire to play in more finals together and complimenting Gauff’s skills as “amazing.”
The American offered her congratulations to Sabalenka for achieving the No. 1 spot. She praised her as an exceptional player and acknowledged that the ranking was well-deserved.
During a press conference following the game, Sabalenka stated that her defeat was a valuable lesson and that she began to overanalyze things during the second set.
She stated, “It’s me versus myself.” Gauff was “moving exceptionally and playing better defense than anyone else.”
“I was playing against the crowd,” she added.
Photos: Coco Gauff wins the women’s final at the US Open.
Gauff achieves her first grand slam victory.
In March, Gauff and Sabalenka faced off in the quarterfinals of Indian Wells, with Sabalenka winning 6-4 6-0. However, in the final on Saturday, the match was much more competitive as Gauff has shown significant improvement in the six months since their previous encounter.
The 19-year-old has achieved victory in three WTA tournaments this year, with her most significant one being in Cincinnati right before the US Open.
Gauff reached her second career grand slam final at the competition, having previously reached the French Open final in 2022, where she was quickly defeated by Iga Świątek.
After defeating Karolína Muchová in the semifinals with scores of 6-4 and 7-5, Gauff discussed her changed mindset. She used to struggle with imposter syndrome, but now she has confidence in her ability to compete against top players in the world.
After this victory, she can now be considered one of the top players in the world, not just a contender.
Gauff was up against a tough competitor, the top-ranked player in the world. Prior to her semifinal match against Madison Keys, Sabalenka had been dominating in New York, winning every set and never losing more than five games in a single match.
Nevertheless, despite her loss, Sabalenka’s journey to the finals marks a remarkable year for her as she claimed three championships, including her first major victory at the Australian Open and her sixth Masters 1000 triumph in Madrid.