Two moments show the poise and pain of being judged in front of millions

Australia World

You might have seen the video of Coco Gauff’s incredible speech after she won the women’s US Open on Sunday, but you might not have seen her opponent’s reaction behind the scenes afterwards.

Here Gauff and runner-up Aryna Sabalenka reveal how it feels to deal with failure on the biggest stage with millions watching.

ICYMI: let’s rewind quickly to Gauff’s speech

After the 19-year-old claimed victory at Arthur Ashe Stadium, making her the youngest to do so since Serena Williams, she gave a speech thanking her naysayers. 

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“Thank you to the people who didn’t believe in me. Like a month ago, I won a (tour) title and people said I would stop at that,” she said. 

“Two weeks ago I won a (tour) title and people were saying that was the biggest it was going to get. So three weeks later, I’m here with this trophy right now.”

Gauff is now on a career-best 12-match winning streak.

“I tried my best to carry this with grace, and I’ve been doing my best, so honestly, to those who thought they were putting water in my fire, you were really adding gas to it and now it’s really burning so bright right now.”

The crowd erupted into cheers. 

She also said it was the first time she’d seen her father cry. 

“He doesn’t want me to tell y’all that but he got caught in 4K.”

Gauff told the crowd she’d been coming to the US Open with her family since she was young and watched the Williams compete. 

She also thanked tennis star Billie Jean King for fighting for equality in women’s tennis.


And Coco herself…

The champion from Florida burst onto the scene when she was 15. 

But before that, she remembers many special moments watching her heroes, the Williams sisters. 

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Fast forward to 2019, she became the youngest qualifier in Wimbledon history, making it to the fourth round at her debut grand slam. 

She reached her first major final at last year’s French Open, finishing as the runner-up.

What appeared to be a step back came this July at the All England Club, where Gauff exited in the first round.

Since then, she’s won 18 of 19 contests. 

When asked about her victory at a competition so special to her, she said, “Dreams come true”.

But with Gauff’s victory comes Sabalenka’s defeat

coco holds her trophy and aryna holds her runner-up plate

The winner and runner-up are presented with their trophies. (Action images )

Footage has emerged of the 25-year-old Belarusian smashing her racket in her locker room after earlier graciously congratulating her opponent on the court. 

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Fans have praised her for calmly walking to her dressing room, putting down her runner-up shield, smashing her racket and putting it in the bin. 

While others said the private moment shouldn’t have be shared with the public. 

Proving the control it took to keep composed, Sabalenka told the press post match how emotional she felt on the court. 

“Sometimes I get too emotional, today on the pitch I thought too much and made so many absurd mistakes,” she said. 

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“In the second set I made a lot of it and I helped her not only to get back into the match but also to make her believe she could win.

“It was a challenge against myself. Overall it’s a huge achievement and I’m proud of myself.

“Now my goal is to finish the season in first position, reach the top and stay there.”

What’s next for both tennis stars?

Both women will now take up spots atop the world rankings. 

Sabalenka, who won her first grand slam trophy in January, will pass Iga Swiatek on the women’s side to become world number one, despite her defeat.

Gauff is now ranked number three in the world. 

The first grand slam tournament of the 2024 season begins on January 15. 

The women’s final is January 27.