The 19-year-old secured her first Grand Slam championship on Saturday
When thoughts of a possible US Open title started to be too much the night before her championship match, Coco Gauff turned to her boyfriend to refocus.
The 19-year-old secured her first-ever Grand Slam title Saturday with her win at the 2023 US Open, only her second-ever Grand Slam final. The other was at the 2022 French Open, a disappointing loss in which Gauff said she thinks she spent too much time the night before envisioning holding that trophy, distracting her from winning the match.
Gauff didn't want that to happen this time around, so the night before her US Open final, the tennis star said she called up her boyfriend.
"Honestly, I didn't have any of those visions [of winning] till last night," she told reporters after her win. "You know, I thought about it, but I told myself to get it out of my head, because that's what I did at French. I was envisioning, you know, what would happen if I would win. I think I wanted it too much."
"Last night, I started a little bit, but honestly, I just called my boyfriend, and I told him let's talk until it's time to go to sleep so we spoke until 1:00 a.m. and then I went to sleep."
That, Gauff said, was one of the tactics that helped her "give it my all," and stay focused on being in the match, even when she lost the first set.
"When I lost the first set I still felt I was into the match and I said, you know, I'm going to give it my all. You know, whatever happens happens," she said. "Even on that match point, you know, 40-Love, like, technically the match was on my racquet. It didn't feel like I had won. It was crazy. I was just trying my best to just focus on the point ahead of me."
Gauff later reflected on the difference between who she is as a player now, compared to the one who lost at in the French Open final.
Asked if she feels a sense of relief after winning at the US Open, Gauff said that feeling is there, but not as much as it would have been a year earlier.
"It's not the biggest emotion. I think it's honestly the smallest one, and I think that was what the difference was between French Open and now. If I would have maybe won that title — obviously I didn't — it would have been the biggest emotion, more than happiness, more than excitement," she said.
"Right now I'm just feeling happiness and a very, very small bit of relief. Because honestly at this point I was doing it for myself and not for other people."
Gauff's US Open title — which made her the youngest American to win the tournament since Serena Williams in 1999 — was the result of a hard-fought match against Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka. After losing the first set 3-6, Gauff rallied back to take the second set 6-3, and finished out the match with a dominant 6-2 final set.
"I feel a little bit in shock at this moment," Gauff told the crowd after her win. "That French Open loss was a heartbreak for me, and that makes this moment even more sweeter than I could imagine."
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