Naomi Osaka & Coco Gauff's Heartfelt Post-Game Moment Was A Lesson In True Sportsmanship
This tennis match was one to remember. On Saturday, Naomi Osaka defeated Coco Gauff at the US Open, and the two athlete's post-game moment exemplified true sportsmanship. Osaka and Gauff faced off in a third-round match, a career-first for the two rising tennis stars, who had never competed against each other before, according to CNN. Osaka won the sets 6-3, 6-0, advancing to round 16 and moving one step closer to defending her US Open title. However, it's what happened after Osaka and Gauff's match had fans sharing their appreciation for the gifted athletes.
Osaka and Gauff's match was highly anticipated — in July, Gauff had a historic run at Wimbledon, winning three matches in the qualifying and three matches in the main draw, per the New York Times. She was only 15, making her the the youngest player since Jennifer Capriati in 1991 to reach the fourth round. Osaka, who is 21, has two Grand Slam titles already, and ultimately won the match, and the US Open champion used her moment in the spotlight to acknowledge Gauff's incredible accomplishment.
Following the match, Osaka asked her opponent to join her for the courtside interview. Gauff turned down the offer at first, knowing she would cry. "She encouraged me to do it," Gauff said in the ESPN video of the moment. "She did amazing and I'm going to learn a lot from this match. She's been so sweet to me, so thank you for this. Thank you."
Following her interview, Gauff emphasized that she didn't want to take the spotlight from Osaka. "Thank you, Naomi. I don't want people to think that I'm trying to take this moment away from her, because she really deserves it."
Before answering a few questions, Osaka was sure to give Gauff one last hug, a move which was met with cheers from the crowd. Later in the ESPN interview, Osaka addressed Gauff's parents, and applauded them for raising such a powerful player. Both tennis stars live and train in Florida, and have been familiar for several years. "You guys raised an amazing player," she said. "For me, the fact that both of us made it, and we're both still working as hard as we can, I think it's incredible. I think you guys are amazing. I think, Coco, you're amazing."
In 2018, Osaka defeated Serena Williams at the US Open, and despite the controversial nature of the match, the tennis legend has showed unfailing support for Osaka. On Aug. 31, Williams praised Osaka and Gauff during a press conference, as per Bloomberg News, reporting that she planned to watch their match from the sidelines. She said, "I definitely think it’s the future of women’s tennis."
On Sunday, Osaka shared a picture with Gauff from the US Open match on Twitter, continuing to show support for the up and coming player. She captioned the photo, "Keep your head up, you’ve got so much to be proud of. Warrior @CocoGauff."
This year may not have been Gauff's time to take the US Open title, but she's only at the beginning of her career. These two tennis stars are on track to lead the sport to new and exciting heights, and their support for each other off the court is equally inspiring.