Moments after Coco Gauff reached the summit at the US Open, the first of her career in a major, the string of public congratulations that the tennis player received – 2-6, 6-3 and 6-2 to Aryna Sabalenka in the final – portrays the impact it has on its country. “Congratulations, Coco. Today you have electrified the Arthur Ashe and the entire nation. “It is the first of the many successes to come and proof that anything is possible if you don’t give up and always believe,” the President of the United States, Joe Biden, dedicated to him. “We couldn’t be more proud of you, both on and off the track, and we know that the best is yet to come,” added Barack Obama, who a few days before posed with her and her wife Michelle at the entrance to the complex. . “Congratulations, Coco. “Your generation is living the dream of the Original Nine,” dedicated Billie Jean King, the woman who 50 years ago stood up and managed to make the tournament equalize the prizes between men and women.
“Thank you, Billie, for having fought so hard for this,” the champion thanked her during the final ceremony, when she collected the three million dollar check that provided her with victory; a victory that brings to the fore a young woman whose behavior is exemplary, inside and outside of tennis. Because Gauff, the child prodigy who reached the fourth round of Wimbledon at the age of 15, is more than just a tennis player. Much more. Coco is fundamentally a commitment to herself and her sport, but also to different causes that concern this new generation of aware young people. Feminism, anti-racism, climate change. “It’s something real,” she said a few days ago, when four activists protested against the use of fossil fuels during their semifinal match and interrupted the action for 49 minutes; “They did it peacefully, so I can’t get angry. If that’s what they felt they had to do to make their voices heard, I can’t be mad. They preach what they feel and what they believe.”
She also believed that she should intervene at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, when in 2020, after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police, she went to the door of her home in Delray Beach and, microphone in hand, he spoke loud and clear: “We must love each other, come what may. I saw a quote from Martin Luther King that said, ‘The silence of good people is worse than the brutality of bad people.’ You don’t have to shut up. If you choose to remain silent, you are choosing the side of the oppressor. I demand a change now. It’s sad that another black man’s life has to be lost. And it’s not just George Floyd. I was eight years old when Trayvon Martin was killed. And here I am, at 16, still demanding a change. I do it for my future children and grandchildren. “I promise to always use my platform to fight.”
Coming from a middle-class family, Gauff grew up enjoying the example of the Williams sisters and admiring them. Now, his story has nothing to do with theirs and Papa Richard, the man who translated his obsession into his daughters in a surely questionable way. Coco has been developed in a rational and considered environment. “If parents have good values, children will have good values. My parents taught me from a very young age to respect differences, that it was okay to be different. They taught me to respect and love people regardless of their nationality, sexual orientation, religion, race or whatever,” she told this newspaper in a meeting held in Madrid last year. “I consider myself a feminist, but above all thanks to my father,” she continued. “The brain is in some ways a muscle and the mind is probably the most important thing; If it doesn’t do its job, if you’re not happy, it will undoubtedly affect everything else,” she added.
A success with a message
Venus and Serena were her inspiration because, she says, until they emerged “there weren’t many black players dominating tennis.” She exalts that legacy and now she is the mirror for future generations. A model professional, Gauff – already third on the world list – has rounded off a perfect summer in which she has won the three most important titles of her career, in ascending order: Washington, Cincinnati and the US Open. She alone resisted Montreal, where she reached the quarterfinals. Her coach, the Spanish Pere Riba, highlights her daily dedication and her ability to listen, in addition to her education on and off the court. With him on the bench and the prestigious Brad Gilbert as her advisor, the American gains flight and offers a response to that cataract of opinions that required her to win a Grand Slam since she was a teenager and that in many cases already described her as a failed project.
“Thanks also to those who didn’t believe in me,” he said at the foot of the court. “Until 10 minutes before the game I was reading comments from people saying that I wasn’t going to win today. “That fuels the fire inside me,” she continued in the conference room, somehow bringing up the Williamses’ fighting spirit; “Since I was 15, people have had a lot of expectations of me and demanded that I win, but I was not developed. I remember once I lost and a statistic came out saying that I wouldn’t win a Grand Slam before Serena’s age (she did it when she was 17). “It’s crazy how many things I’ve had to listen to and read.”
Become a youth icon for new audiences, in recent times she has polished her game – right and position to the rest, especially – and continues to display a superlative physical display. “I’ve been following you for years,” says Swiss Roger Federer, whose representation agency, Team8, has guided the tennis player since before she became known at Wimbledon. “Your hard work and mental toughness are great for our sport. “You shine more than ever,” adds the genius, a man with a good sense of smell. He did bet on Coco.
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