Coco Gauff said tennis icons Serena and Venus Williams paved the way for her breakthrough US Open triumph on Saturday after the American teenager captured her first Grand Slam title.
The 19-year-old from Florida battled to a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 defeat of Aryna Sabalenka at the Arthur Ashe Stadium – where as a child she had watched the Williams sisters dominate.
The win ensured Gauff will have her name etched into tennis history alongside other Black American women to lift the title such as the Williams sisters, Althea Gibson and Sloane Stephens.
“It’s crazy. I mean, they’re the reason why I have this trophy today, to be honest,” Gauff said of the Williams sisters.
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“They have allowed me to believe in this dream growing up. You know, there wasn’t too many just Black tennis players dominating the sport. It was literally just them that I can remember when I was younger.
“Obviously more came because of their legacy. So it made the dream more believable. But all the things that they had to go through, they made it easier for someone like me to do this.”
Gauff referenced the Williams sisters’ 14-year boycott of the prestigious Indian Wells tournament – due to alleged racist heckling and Venus Williams’ push for equal pay for women at major championships.
“You look back at the history with Indian Wells, with Serena, all she had to go through, Venus fighting for equal pay,” Gauff said.