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Coco Gauff’s Superlative Win at the US Open

Coco Gauff declares she’s the future of American tennis. This talented 19-year-old superstar has the tennis world in the palm of her hand, but it hasn’t always been this way. 

The 9th of September 2023 is a date that Gauff will always remember. The date will be etched into her mind forever after defeating number two seed Aryna Sablenka at Arthur Ashe Stadium in three sets, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Gauff is the youngest American major tournament winner since a teenage Serena Williams won in 1999. The win might be 24 years apart, and comparisons are inevitable, but Gauff is set to forge her path by breaking stereotypes and smashing boundaries.

Talking to reporters after the match, Gauff credits Serena and Venus Williams, Naomi Osaka, Althea Gibson, and Sloane Stephens for the inspiration to win the US Open and specifically credits her icons, saying – “They’re the reason (the William sisters), I have this trophy, they have allowed me to believe in myself and my dream growing up. There weren’t many famous black tennis players when I was younger.” 

It’s not just the sport of tennis that Gauff has to thank the Williams sisters for. It’s also the right to fair and equal pay, an issue that Billie Jean King and then Venus Williams famously took on and won. Then there’s racism and overt criticism that black athletes face. Surely times have moved on, and Gauff can park those issues on the baseline and concentrate on her game?

Apparently not; if Gauff’s recent comments are anything to go by, she plans to take the baton from the Williams sisters and run with it in every way by every means, and we salute her for that.


Coco Gauff Some History

Coco Gauff's Superlative
Coco Gauff

Cori Dionne Gauff was born in 2004 when Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated Elena Dementieva. 2004 wasn’t a good year for black female tennis players. The Open featured no black players; the only non-white player to rank was Paola Suárez from Argentina. 

Born to Candi and Corey Gauff, Coco has two younger brothers. The entire family is athletic, and Corey is her primary coach. Much like the Williams sisters, the Gauff family gave everything to tennis, moving from Atlanta to Florida for better training opportunities and finally moving at age 10 to the Mouratoglou Academy in France run by Patrick Mouratoglou, the longstanding coach to Serena Williams. 

From there, Gauff won the USTA Clay Court National 12-and-under title at ten to become the tournament’s youngest champion.

The list of wins goes on and on, ranked third in the world in singles by the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) and 1st for doubles. Gauff has six WTA tour (singles) titles, including her debut gram slam.


What’s Next for Gauff?

Coco Gauff's Superlative Win
Coco Gauff

Gauff is a role model whether she likes it or not. At 19, she has her entire career ahead of her, and within that career, there will inevitably be ups and downs, more wins and some losses. Life is exciting, but Gauff carries more expectations than white male athletes and even black male athletes; in fact, she bears the responsibility to all black women and girls just as the Williams sisters did before her.

Right now, Gauff is on top of the world, and now more than ever, she can use her platform to rage against injustice and inequality, and it’s from this platform she can stand up for her beliefs. We know she won’t sit back and not get involved after commenting on the interruption to her semi-final game by climate change protesters.

About the man who cemented his feet to the floor, she said she agreed with the cause and will “never tell anyone to be quiet about what they believe in.” After playing at the French Open in 2022, Gauff commented on increasing gun violence and talked openly at Wimbledon the same year about her dismay at the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

These statements show us that Gauff is not only a brilliant tennis player but an advocate for women’s rights, particularly black women’s rights.


Black Trail Blazers in the US Open 


Unlike 2004, Gauff isn’t the only black woman blazing a trail at the tennis US Open. Guaff is part of a new generation of female black tennis stars; the US team features nine black players, including her friend and sparring partner, Sloane Stephens.

Robin Montgomery, Taylor Townsend, Asia Muhammad, Madison Keys, Alycia Parks, Sachia Vickery, and Clervie Ngounoue all played their part in raising the profile of black women in sports.

Taylor Townsend, an unranked player, defeated 19th seed Bea Haddad Maia but lost to Karolina Muchova in the third round. Townsend has spoken up about the racial and economic disparities between black and white players, telling Reuters in 2020 and in a recent interview that she faces extra security checks and is often mistaken for other black players at tournaments.

Sloan Stevens ranks 36th in the women’s singles; Madison Keys lost to Aryna Sabalenka in the semi-finals of the US Open, leaving the door open for Gauff. The US team is stronger because of diversity; tennis has come a long way since 2004, but what about sports in general?


Racism in Sports


Any black athlete will tell you that racism in sports is ever present, and tennis is no exception – just ask the Williams sisters about the Indian Wells Open.

The Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California hosts the Indian Wells Open; it was here during the height of their tennis success that Venus and Serena Williams decided to boycott the Indian Wells tournament for 14 years due to the overwhelming amount of constant racist remarks, insults, and an overall hostile reception from the audience both present and on social media.

After her win, Gauff referred to “What happened at Indian Wells” as an example of how the sisters stood up to racism and won. It would be easy to whitewash racism out of Gauff’s story, but that would be disingenuous and wrong.

We celebrate Coco Gauff because she is a brilliant tennis player and an outstanding young woman – more than that, she is a unique black woman and an athlete to watch. 




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