Coco Gauff has taken 2019 by storm.
At the age of 15, she became the youngest player to qualify for the main Wimbledon draw since the Open era began in 1968. She also managed to beat one of her idols, former world number one Venus Williams, in the first round, before she lost to Simona Halep in the tournament’s semi-final.
Now, after clinching the wildcard for the women’s singles at the US open, the American tennis star has gained the world’s attention again. She’s had a truly stellar tournament – she raced her way through the rounds to gain the chance to compete against world no. 1 and defending US Open champion Naomi Osaka – and while Gauff eventually faced defeat in yesterday’s showdown, it was what happened after the match that has stolen the world’s hearts.
After beating Gauff 6-3 6-0 in the tournament’s third round, Osaka asked the tennis star, who was crying after the loss, to join her in the post-match interview.
“I wanted to leave the court because I’m not the type of person who wants to cry in front of everyone,” Gauff explained in a post-match press conference. “I didn’t want to take that moment away from her, as well.
“She told me it’s better than crying in the shower. She convinced me multiple times to stay. I kept saying no. Finally I said, OK, I’ll do it. Because I didn’t know what to do.”
The pair then went on to stand side-by-side throughout the post-match interview, with both of the athletes reduced to tears as they spoke fondly about their opponent.
“I’m going to learn a lot from this match,” Gauff told the court in the interview with ESPN.
“She’s been so sweet to me,” she continued, gesturing to Osaka, “so thank you for this. Thank you.”
Osaka then went on to sing the praises of Gauff, who is only six years her minor.
“You guys raised an amazing player,” she began, speaking to Gauff’s player box, where the teen’s parents were sat. “I remember I used to see you guys training in the same place as us. For me, like the fact that both of us made it, and we’re both still working as hard as we can, I think it’s incredible. I think you guys are amazing. I think, Coco, you’re amazing.”
The pair’s on-court moment was a reminder of the power of female friendship – even in her moment of success, Osaka chose to lift-up her opponent and give her the recognition she deserved.
Speaking after the match, Gauff was keen to praise Osaka for her actions, adding: “I think she just proved that she’s a true athlete. For me the definition of an athlete is someone who on the court treats you like your worst enemy but off the court can be your best friend. I think that’s what she did tonight.”
Taking to Twitter to add a final message of support, Osaka continued to express her admiration of Gauff, writing: “Keep your head up, you’ve got so much to be proud of. Warrior.”
With role models like Gauff and Osaka joining the likes of Serena Williams, the future of female sport is looking pretty bright.