08 Sep Coco Gauff recreating tennis history as she retraces Serena Williams’ US Open Final glory
American teenager Coco Gauff is set to carry on the legacy of tennis icon Serena Williams as she faces Aryna Sabalenka in the US Open final on Saturday, a year after Williams retired from her illustrious 27-year professional career with 23 Grand Slam singles titles.
At just 19 years old, Gauff is on the cusp of securing her first major championship. While comparisons to Serena Williams have surfaced, Gauff has made it clear that she doesn’t aspire to replicate her idol’s achievements. She acknowledges Williams as the “Greatest of all time (GOAT),” saying, “I’d hope to do half of what she did.”
However, Gauff openly acknowledges that Serena Williams played a pivotal role in inspiring her to pick up a tennis racquet and chase her dreams. She admires how Williams transformed a predominantly white sport, particularly as a young Black girl growing up without many role models who looked like her in tennis.
Gauff, who gained international recognition with a remarkable run to the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2019 at just 15 years old, has quickly established her own identity in the tennis world. Despite her undeniable talents, she admits to occasionally experiencing “impostor syndrome” and questioning her place among the top women’s tennis players.
Learning to embrace self-confidence has been a journey for Gauff, and she credits part of this transformation to her coach, Brad Gilbert, who joined her team in July. Gilbert’s advice to her was simple but impactful: learn to enjoy the game and smile more.
As Gauff prepares to face Aryna Sabalenka, a formidable opponent from Belarus and the incoming world number one, she is gradually adjusting her mindset. Sabalenka, who had a breakthrough season, aims to add a second Grand Slam title to her resume after winning the Australian Open earlier in the year.
Sabalenka demonstrated her mental resilience in a nail-biting semi-final match against Madison Keys. She views herself as her “own psychologist” and is ready to face the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd, which is expected to fervently support Gauff.
In conclusion, Coco Gauff is poised to carry forward Serena Williams’ legacy while forging her unique path in tennis. Her journey from being a young fan to a promising contender reflects the evolution of her tennis career and self-belief, as she faces the formidable challenge presented by Aryna Sabalenka in the US Open final.