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Coco Gauff thanks doubters in stirring US Open 2023 final speech as Barack Obama leads tributes

FLUSHING MEADOWS — Coco Gauff delivered a stirring speech upon sealing her maiden grand slam title, thanking her family but also her doubters after winning the US Open final against Aryna Sabalenka.

The American 19-year-old headed into this match as underdog, but remarkably recovered from a set down to beat the No 2 seed 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday.

In the emotional scenes that followed inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, Gauff dropped to the floor in celebration before heading over to revel in the moment with her team and family, and during the trophy presentation came statements that would have been worthy of a mic drop, with Gauff claiming that those who didn’t believe in her were merely adding fuel to her fire.

“I want to say thank you to the people who didn’t believe in me. A month ago I won a (WTA) 500 title and people said I would stop at that,” she said.

“Two weeks ago I won a (WTA) 1000 title and people were saying that was the biggest title I would get.

“Three weeks later I’m here with this trophy right now. I tried my best to carry this with grace but honestly to those who thought you were putting water on my fire, you were really adding gas to it and now I’m burning so bright right now.

“Last but not least, thank you to New York, thank you all. This means so much.”

Perhaps the most touching moment during the aftermath though was Gauff’s embrace with her dad, who has supported her throughout this journey and in more recent years has found himself too nervous to watch from the players’ box – instead “doing laps” or pacing around in suites elsewhere on Ashe.

“Thank you first to my parents,” she said. “Today was the first time I’ve seen my dad cry. He thinks he’s so hard, but thank you guys, you believed in me from the beginning. My dad took me to this tournament watching Venus and Serena compete.”

The congratulations soon flooded in on social media, with the Obamas leading the tributes, former president Barack Obama saying: “We couldn’t be prouder of you on and off the court – and we know the best is yet to come.”

Gauff goes down as a popular champion who has realised a dream having first burst onto the scene at Wimbledon in 2019.

A French Open runner-up last year, Gauff then suffered a shock first-round exit at Wimbledon just a few months ago.

But incredibly she bounced back in style, winning titles in Washington and Cincinnati before clinching the US Open.

“It means so much to me,” she added. “I feel like I’m a little bit in shock in this moment. That French Open loss was a heartbreak for me but I realised God puts you through tribulations and trials and this makes this moment even more sweeter than I could imagine.

“I don’t pray for results I just ask that I get the strength to give it my all and whatever happens happens. I just knew that if I didn’t give it my all I had no shot at winning. Aryna’s an incredible, incredible player.

“I’m so blessed in this life. I’m just thankful for this moment. I don’t have any words for it to be honest.”

Report: How Gauff won first US Open title

It was hard not getting swept up by the revelry surrounding this one, the roof almost came off. Coco Gauff is a grand slam singles champion, doing it the hard way on home soil when battling back to beat Aryna Sabalenka 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the US Open final.

It looked wholly unlikely after the opening hour. Sabalenka may have been racking up the unforced errors, but the 25-year-old No 2 seed – who becomes the world No 1 on Monday – dominated virtually every rally when taking the first set.

Somehow, though, Gauff dug deep, rallying the crowd at vital times and forcing her way back into the match before emphatically holding her nerve in the decider to clinch victory in two hours and five minutes.

And all this at just 19. The teenager that broke onto the scene at Wimbledon 2019 has now realised a dream four years later, and in doing so she becomes the first American to win this New York City slam since Sloane Stephens in 2017.

Read Michael Hincks’ report in full here

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