NEW YORK — Coco Gauff won her first major title on Saturday at the US Open with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Aryna Sabalenka in front of an adoring crowd under the roof on a stormy day at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
After the match, the 19-year-old American fell to the ground and lay on her back on the court before sobbing in celebration. After hugging Sabalenka, Gauff ran up the stairs to tearfully hug her parents and then the rest of her team.
Moments later, Gauff told the star-studded crowd, which included Kevin Durant, Diane Keaton, Nicole Kidman, Spike Lee, Mindy Kaling and 2006 champion Maria Sharapova, that she still hadn’t fully processed the victory.
“Oh my goodness, it means so much to me,” Gauff told ESPN’s Mary Joe Fernandez. “I feel like I’m a little bit in shock in this moment. That  French Open loss was a heartbreak for me. But I realized God put you through tribulations and trials and that makes this moment even sweeter than I could have imagined.”
Gauff is the youngest American to win the US Open since Serena Williams in 1999 and the first American player to win a major title since Sofia Kenin at the Australian Open in 2020. Gauff also became the first woman to win the title in New York after dropping the first set in three matches during her title run since Williams, also in 1999.
When speaking to the media after the match, Gauff said it was an honor to have her name listed on the same trophy as Williams and her sister Venus, who won the title a combined eight times.
“I mean, they’re the reason why I have this trophy today, to be honest,” Gauff said. “They have allowed me to believe in this dream. Growing up, there weren’t too many Black tennis players dominating the sport. It was literally, at that time when I was younger, it was just them that I can remember.
“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, the tournament’s No. 6 seed, was broken in the first game of the match and struggled to find any rhythm in the nervy 40-minute opening set. Since the first set winner had won 27 of the previous 28 US Open women’s finals, history was not on her side. But she took control in the second set, breaking Sabalenka…