Coco Gauff, 19, Explains What Was Going Through Her Mind After Winning the U.S. Open – the First Major Win of Her Career

On Saturday (September 9), Coco Gauff – who turned 19 years old in March – became the youngest American to win the U.S. Open since Serena Williams in 1999. It was the first major win of her young career and has her ranked No. 3 in the world, as of September 11 – and she’s just getting started!

After beating the No. 2 player in the world, Aryna Sabalenka (who is now ranked No. 1), Coco walked over to her bench, dropped to her knees, pressed her palms together, and said a prayer. The moment was captured on TV and immediately went viral as she processed what was the biggest win of her life.

On Monday (September 11), Coco and her parents – who supported their daughter from the stands all tournament long – joined Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb on the TODAY show. During the interview, she was asked to explain what was going through her mind during her viral moment after the victory.  

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“I was just saying thank you, and I understood all the tough times were just to make that moment even sweeter. I think if it came easy, I wouldn’t feel as appreciative as I did in that moment, clearly,” she said of the gesture. And for those who didn’t watch the tournament – it was far from easy for the 19-year-old.

She lost the first set in two of her first three matches, but fought her way back in both of them to win in three sets. Her fourth-round match against Caroline Wozniacki (a former No. 1 player) went to three sets as well. She played very well in the quarterfinals and semifinals, but struggled early in the singles final. 

Sabalenka ended up winning the first set 6-2 and had clear control of the momentum moving forward. That didn’t deter Coco Gauff from finding her game, though. She won the second set 6-3 and won the third set 6-2 to secure the victory in dominant fashion. She played her best tennis when it mattered most. 

And if you ask her, it couldn’t have happened in a more suitable environment. “Obviously when you’re losing, you’re like, ‘Why is it happening now?’ But I was like, ‘It couldn’t have been any more perfect than this moment,’ and doing it in the U.S., in New York City, is just incredible,” Coco Gauff said on TODAY. 

Coco Gauff Had Difficulty Sleeping the Night Before

We saw Coco Gauff at the top of her game against one of the greatest players in the world and on the biggest stage in tennis, so it’s easy to think that she wasn’t fazed by it all – but she was. In fact, she admitted to having butterflies the night before the Final – reminding us that she is human, after all. 

So, how did she calm those nerves? She called her boyfriend and spoke to him until 1:00 in the morning. “He asked if I wanted to talk about it, and I was like, ‘No. Everything except that.’ I was like, ‘OK, it’s 1, so I have to go to sleep if I actually want to be productive tomorrow. I went to sleep,” she said on TODAY. 

She talked about the last time she was in a Grand Slam final – which was the 2022 French Open – and how she couldn’t sleep at all the night before. Her boyfriend helped her through those nerves, as well – proving to be a source of her success and focus. Of course, she also credits her parents for their support.

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They both had their viral moments during the Final. Her mother, Candi Gauff, went ‘absolutely insane’ and ‘caught the Holy Ghost’ when Coco won. Meanwhile, her father – Corey Gauff – was seen shedding tears of joy, which was notable coming from someone whom Coco had never seen cry before. It was a vibe!

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