The stadium erupted in an explosion of noise and celebration when Coco Gauff defeated Aryna Sabalenka in three sets to win the US Open, fans jumping to their feet in unison as Gauff collapsed to the floor.
Celebrations stretched all across the US as celebrities, fellow tennis players and several Presidents gave the 19-year-old their seal of approval as she fulfilled the potential she had first displayed as a 15-year-old defeating Venus Williams at Wimbledon.
Those initial expectations had affected her “a lot” Gauff told CNN’s Carolyn Manno after she had become the youngest American women to win the US Open since Serena Williams in 1999.
“I learned how to just stay within myself but also embrace it,” she said after her 2-6 6-3 6-2 win. “Before I tried to ignore it, but now I’m really embracing it and I still feel like I have long, long ways to develop as a player. Today was nowhere near my best, but it was just enough that I needed to win in that moment.”
Gauff has long been earmarked as one of tennis’ next superstars and her maturity on-and-off the court, intelligence and ability to articulate herself has endeared her to the American public in particular.
“Congrats to U.S. Open Champion Coco Gauff,” President Joe Biden wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “You electrified Arthur Ashe stadium and the entire nation – the first of more to come and proof that anything is possible if you never give up and always believe. You’ve made America so proud.”
Barack and Michelle Obama had supported Gauff from the stands during her first-round match against Laura Siegmund, and they too congratulated her on X.
Former President Obama wrote that “we couldn’t be prouder of you on and off the court – and we know the best is yet to come,” while Michelle Obama paid tribute to Gauff’s “hard work and grit” and shared a photo of their meeting after that first-round match.
Bill Clinton also congratulated Gauff on her “incredible victory,” saying that “the future of American tennis looks bright.”
Meanwhile, Serena Williams, who Gauff said “allowed me to believe in this dream,” posted on her Instagram story marking Gauff’s victory with the caption, “Ahhhhh!!!! Amazing!!!!”
“My dad took me to this tournament, sitting right there, watching Venus and Serena compete, so it’s really incredible to be here on this stage,” Gauff said afterwards, according to the WTA.
Gauff completed a dramatic comeback to win the title, after Sabalenka broke the American’s serve three times to secure the first set.
With the packed crowd chanting “Let’s go, Coco,” Gauff raised her level in the second set, going up a break before eventually taking it 6-3 to force a deciding third set which she took to seal victory.
In the stands, stars such as Nicole Kidman, Amanda Seyfried, Cara Delevingne, Ariana DeBose and Diane Keaton watched on, while Gauff’s Instagram post marking her win was flooded with comments from celebrity well wishers.
“You made me scream so hard today queen!!! Go Coco!!!” said Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness, while fellow tennis player Carlos Alcaraz called her win “Amazing,” and Hollywood star Zendaya left a series of star emojis.
Closer to home, Gauff told reporters her brother was so loud when she rang him immediately after the match that “it was hurting my ears so I hung up.” Her mom jumped up and down with her hands in the air, she said, before embracing her daughter in the stands afterwards.
“When I hugged my dad, I didn’t see him, because he went immediately for the embrace,” Gauff told reporters. “I heard him crying but I have never seen that man cry in my life with everything that’s happened.
“My mom, I knew she was going to cry regardless if I won or lost. I wasn’t really surprised with that. But, I mean, honestly, the whole time I was saying to myself, ‘Oh my goodness, how is this real?’”
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