Coco Gauff… A new Serena Williams is born

Coco Gauff… A new Serena Williams is born
Coco Gauff… A new Serena Williams is born

The exit of American tennis icon, Serena Williams, took away the attention of many followers, who fell in love with her style of play, celebration, shape and smiles both on and off the court. But another sensational tennis idol has been ‘born’, thanks to the emergence of Coco Gauff, writes GOWON AKPODONOR.

As she made her way from the tennis court after defeating world No. 2, Aryna Sabalenka, in three sets to become the first American teenager to win the U.S. Open since Serena Williams in 1999, the shout of Coco, Coco, rented the air.

Not many gave her the chance, but Gauff did it in style. The victory at the 2023 U.S. Open was Gauff’s first major singles title. Before then, she had won five WTA Tour singles titles and eight doubles titles – five partnering with Jessica Pegula and three with Caty McNally.

But her victory at the U.S. Open was what really triggered the praises from many tennis fans across the globe. Born to parents with NCAA Division I collegiate backgrounds in basketball and track and field, Coco Guaff, a Christian, became the No. 1 junior in the world after winning the junior 2018 French Open singles title. She also won a junior major doubles title at the 2018 US Open.

Her father, Corey Gauff, played college basketball at Georgia State University and later worked as a health care executive. Her mother, Candi, was a track and field athlete at Florida State University and worked as an educator.

The 2023 US Open was the 143rd edition, and the fourth and final Grand Slam event of the year. Even before her emergence as the new champion on September 9, many tennis faithful across the world had compared Gauff to one of the greatest tennis players of all time – Serena Williams.

There are many reasons why Gauff is being compared to Williams. For one, she has shown an incredible level of skill and talent at such a young age. She burst onto the scene at just 15 years old, becoming the youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon in the Open era. She then went on to win her first-round match against Venus Williams, one of the all-time greats of the game.

The victory at the U.S. Open on September 9 saw Gauff take home $3 million, a figure that helped boost her season earning to $5.5 million, and her career earnings to $11.1 million.

While Gauff’s endorsement earnings haven’t been revealed for 2023, Forbes reported that she earned $8 million last year. Shortly after she won the US Open title, there was a video on social media of Gauff dancing on Arthur Ashe Stadium as an excited eight-year-old.

Eleven years later, the American teenager was standing in the same stadium – this time on the court lifting a Grand Slam trophy like she had long dreamed.

Gauff said she took motivation from negative comments on social media before facing Sabalenka in the final on September 9. She also said she agreed with protestors who interrupted her semifinal for 50 minutes as they looked to bring attention to climate change.

Gauff made her WTA Tour debut in March 2019 at the Miami Open.After winning the Cincinnati Open in August 2023, she said, “… I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I spent a lot of nights alone, crying, trying to figure it out. I still have a lot to figure out, but I thank Him fo And after winning her first Grand Slam title on September 9, she said, “… I don’t pray for results, I just ask that I get the strength to give it my all and whatever happens happens. I’m so blessed in this life.”

Gauff’s tennis idols are Serena and Venus Williams. “Serena Williams has always been my idol…and Venus. They are the reason why I wanted to pick up a tennis racquet.”

Gauff first met Serena when she won the Little Mo national tournament at the age of eight. She later met her while filming a commercial for Delta Air Lines at the Mouratoglou Academy.

After defeating Venus Williams at Wimbledon in 2019, Gauff expressed her respect when they shook hands at the net. “I was just telling her thank you for everything she’s done.”

Gauff burst on to the scene as a 15-year-old phenomenon at Wimbledon in 2019, now fulfilling her date with the destiny many had predicted ever since – and with the charisma she showed even then.

After beating Aryna Sabalenka 2-6 6-3 6-2 at the September 9 New York showpiece, Gauff took the microphone to deliver an accomplished and heartfelt speech that covered every base.

She spilled the secret of her dad, Corey crying in celebration – “he thinks he is hard” – and also threw shade on the people who doubted whether she would live up to the “hype”.

“I want to say ‘thank you’ to the people who didn’t believe in me,” she said.
“I tried my best to carry on with grace but, honestly, to those who thought you were putting water on my fire, you were really adding gas to it.

“I’m burning so bright right now.” Without any written notes in front of her, she also thanked her parents, grandparents, coaches and the crowd and spoke of the importance of her faith.

Crediting Billie Jean King, the pioneering major champion who fought for gender equality in the sport, for enabling her to take home a $3m prize pot, was another endearing touch.

“I feel like this is a big achievement, but honestly I feel like I’ve been so used to being in the public eye since I was basically 15 years old in high school,” she said.

“I’m sure it might be a much bigger scale now because of this achievement, but I’m ready. I embrace it.
“I think the pressure has been taken off a little bit and I still am hungry for more.”

Not only has Gauff become a leading light in the sport because of her tennis ability, but also because of her engaging personality.
In simple terms, she has the one ingredient you can’t teach or learn: star quality.

And she uses her voice – and uses it powerfully. She has also spoken out strongly in the past about racial injustice and gun crime in the United States.

“She’s well beyond her years,” Jarmere Jenkins, a member of Gauff’s new-look coaching team, told BBC Sport.
“For a 19-year-old, how grounded she is, how well spoken she is, it’s incredible. I love how she’s an advocate.
“Me at 19? I’m so glad I didn’t have the spotlight. I wouldn’t know how to handle it.”

Gauff’s emergence at Wimbledon in 2019 captured the world’s attention, leading to many predictions – some wilder than others – about how many Grand Slam titles she would go on to win.
The more measured analysis was that she would need time to mature on the court and develop her game when she transitioned full-time to the WTA Tour.

Her progress since then had been significant but steady, becoming a fixture in the world’s top 10 over the past 12 months without winning a major title.

Defeat in the French Open final last year, winning just four games against Iga Swiatek, left Gauff in tears as she sat on court afterwards.
“Putting together the title win in (Washington) DC was huge,” Jenkins said.

“It let her know that she can do this, she belongs here and gave her a boost of confidence. We’ve been able to ride that momentum since.

“Coco has always belonged. She has always proven she is meant for the big lights.

“The tools were already there. People say things about technique but sometimes what is missing is the faith.
“In New York, she has been able to show up and execute the game plan. She has been solid: mentally, spiritually and emotionally,” Jenkins stated.