Coco Gauff winning US Open in Serena Williams’ last run would be poetic

Serena Williams, Coco Gauff, US Open (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Lotte New York Palace)
Serena Williams, Coco Gauff, US Open (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Lotte New York Palace) /

Coco Gauff winning the 2022 US Open in Serena Williams’ last professional appearance would be a poetic passing of the torch.

Today’s young tennis stars all grew up watching Serena Williams dominate the court, so it’s not entirely shocking that Coco Gauff was motivated from the time she was a young girl by Williams’ career. But Gauff’s connections to Williams as she has ascended to the pro level in her own career connect the two athletes as symbols of the generations they represent deeper than most.

From the moment Gauff first appeared in Main Draw Grand Slam action, she was tied to the Williams sisters.

Gauff’s first appearance in a Grand Slam was at Wimbledon, and poetically, she was up against Serena’s sister Venus in the opening round. At just 15 years of age, she was in the mainstream public eye for the first time against one of the best tennis players of all time. The odds were against her, but Gauff came away with a shocking upset victory in straight sets.

Years later and now 18 years old, Gauff is onto the second round in the 2022 US Open, as is Serena Williams. The pair have never faced each other professionally. Gauff is also coming into her own and her results so far in the French Open and at Wimbledon hint that her preparation may have her ready to take her first ever Grand Slam title. She finished as a finalist in the French Open and made it to the third round at Wimbledon this year.

Related Story. What is Serena Williams doing after legendary tennis career?. light

Coco Gauff has taken plenty of inspiration from Serena Williams

We all know what Serena and Venus Williams’ ascension in the tennis world has meant to people of color — and in particular, female athletes of color — everywhere. Representation matters, and seeing two young Black girls defy the odds and rise to become some of the best the sport has ever seen, regardless of gender, skin color, or socioeconomic background, is a meaningful story.

Gauff is that inspiration personified.

"“That’s something that as a little girl — and even now — meant a lot to me… Especially, like, growing up, before I was born, there wasn’t many. Before Serena came along, there was not really an icon of the sport that looked like me… So growing up, I never thought that I was different because the No. 1 player in the world was somebody who looked like me,” she added. “I think that’s the biggest thing that I can take from what I’ve learned from Serena.” — Coco Gauff at US Open Media Day 2022, h/t"

Serena Williams has paved the way for stars like Coco Gauff, Naomi Osaka to be themselves

Unfortunately, athletes in the process of breaking down barriers — particularly racial barriers — often don’t have the luxury of being human. Jackie Robinson had to tolerate racial slurs on the baseball field and not lash out over fear of his actions being used against an entire race’s inclusion in the sport. The Williams sisters were unafraid to be themselves, but were often stoic on the court and Serena is notably reluctant to talk about anything but the match in postgame interviews.

In moments that Serena did show personality and authentic human qualities, she was punished for it. Williams has had to deal with her personality being unfairly stereotyped at times, with a grotesque cartoon released of her passion-infused plea to an official released and highly criticized for being a racist stereotype serving as just one example.

Gauff and Naomi Osaka have been outspoken about mental health struggles, a domain that professional athletes are just now starting to feel comfortable being publicly vulnerable with. Gauff contemplated taking a year off, and Osaka has pulled herself out of multiple tournaments citing mental health.

Osaka, after defeating Gauff in the third round of the 2019 iteration of the US Open, humbly brought Gauff with her to her postmatch interview as a show of respect for her competitor and peer.

Williams and Osaka have exchanged grace as well.

Osaka lost in the first round of the US Open, but Gauff remains.

Can Coco Gauff beat Margaret Court’s Grand Slam record?

Serena Williams was unable to beat Margaret Court’s Grand Slam record of 24 wins. At 23, the best she can do is tie it by winning this year’s US Open.

Can Coco Gauff beat the record? It’ll be tough, but she is the same age now as Serena was when she won her first Grand Slam and has a few years of pro experience already under her belt. Fittingly, that was when she was 18 at the US Open.

Serena Williams winning US Open is a longshot, but Coco Gauff could pull it off

Serena Williams winning the US Open in her final appearance is what we all want, but it may be far-fetched. Williams is aged and does not have the same mobility she once did. Though the crowd will be behind her every step of the way in Queens, will it be enough?

Coco Gauff, on the other hand, is a reasonable pick to win the women’s singles tournament, and her winning in Serena’s final go-around would be just as poetic. It would be the passing of a torch, with the inspiration for the victor stepping down as Gauff announces her ultimate arrival as a Grand Slam Champion.

Could the two face each other? It’s possible, but being on opposite ends of the bracket, the only possible match will be in the finals. Oh, how poetic that would be.

dark. Next. Serena Williams Round 2 US Open preview: Can she beat Anett Kontaveit?