Nineteen-year-old tennis sensation Coco Gauff has won the U.S. Open, making her the youngest American champion of the competition since Serena Williams in 1999.
She beat out Belarusian tennis star Aryna Sabalenka, the 25-year-old winner of the Australian Open singles final earlier this year, at Saturday’s final in New York, scoring 2-6, 6-3 and 6-2.
The South Florida phenom is the youngest American to win the U.S. Open since 17-year-old Williams did so in 1999. Gauff credits the tennis prodigy and her sister Venus Williams as her inspirations, once saying that they’re the “reason why I wanted to pick up a tennis racquet.”
This is the first time an American woman has won the U.S. Open in six years.
The 19-year-old made her way to the final after defeating Czech player Karolina Muchova, 27, on Thursday in a match delayed for nearly an hour by environmental protesters. Gauff acknowledged them in an interview later, saying she believes in climate change and “can’t really get upset” about the demonstration during her match.
Sabalenka beat out American player Madison Keys, 28, that same day. When asked about facing Gauff next, Sabalenka applauded her talents, saying: “She’s an unbelievable player. She’s playing really incredible tennis here at the U.S. Open.”
Gauff, known for her consistently powerful backhand swing, is no stranger to setting records, including becoming the youngest girls’ singles finalist in U.S. Open history when she was just 13 years old in 2017. A year later, she became the fifth-youngest girls’ singles champion in French Open history.
Gauff narrowly missed competing at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19, but says she has her heart set on winning gold at the Paris Games next year.