Coco Gauff shook off early match struggles to take down upcoming world No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka by a score of 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the 2023 US Open women's final. This is the 19-year-old's first career Grand Slam title.
"It means so much to me. I feel like I'm a little bit in shock at this moment," Gauff said on the court after her win. "That French Open loss was a heartbreak for me, but I realized, you know, God puts you through tribulations and trials. That makes this moment even more sweeter than I could have imagined."
Entering Saturday, Gauff was the youngest American -- man or woman -- to reach the title match at Flushing Meadows since Serena Williams did so at 17 in 1999, and now Gauff is the youngest American winner since then. Gauff is also the first woman to win the Cincinnati Masters 1000 and US Open in the same year since Williams in 2014.
After the match, Gauff reflected on seeing Williams shine on the exact stage she now finds herself on.
"Thank you first to my parents," Gauff said. "Today is the first time I've ever seen my dad cry… My dad took me to this tournament, I was seating right there watching Venus and Serena compete. It's really incredible to be on this stage."
After entering the tournament ranked No. 6 in the world, Gauff will improve to a career-best No. 3 next week after becoming just the 10th teenager to win a women's US Open title.
Although she lost the first set 2-6 and was struggling with her forehand, Gauff came back roaring with a 6-3 win in the second then carried that momentum into the final set.
In that final set, Gauff found a 4-0 lead before Sabalenka attempted a comeback and won a game to cut the deficit. The Belarusian star then called a medical timeout and had a trainer massage her left thigh. Gauff didn't let this distract her as she stayed loose while waiting for her opponent.
"I just knew that, if I didn't give it my all, I had no shot at winning," Gauff said. "Aryna is an incredible, incredible player."
Gauff struggled with consistency earlier this year but turned it around after coach Pere Riba added Brad Gilbert to the coaching staff. Since then, Gauff has gone 18-1 and won a Grand Slam title.
"Thank you to the people who didn't believe in me," Gauff said. "… To those who thought they were puting water on my fire, you were really adding gas to it. And I'm burning so bright right now."