American tennis is in good hands with Coco Gauff, U.S. Open tournament director Stacey Allaster has told Reuters as the charismatic teen looks to end her breakthrough year on a high.
Gauff mounted a fierce comeback to beat Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka in the U.S. Open final, claiming her first Grand Slam title and her place in American tennis royalty. The triumph came amid a 16-match winning streak for Gauff that ended in the China Open semi-final last month at the hands of old foe Iga Swiatek of Poland.
“The next generation has arrived and stood on the shoulders of the great Serena Williams and Venus Williams,” said Allaster, the chief executive, Professional Tennis, with the USTA. “It feels like she’s been around for a long time. She’s only 19… She is special. She is humble and kind, she’s hardworking. And she is very, very focused on winning.”
The 19-year-old proved as captivating to fans as the idols who inspired her growing up as 3.4 million viewers tuned in for the U.S. Open final on ESPN, making it the most-watched major women’s championship ever on the network.
The moment was made all the sweeter for Allaster, the former WTA head who won the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Billie Jean King Leadership Award this year after the U.S. Open celebrated its 50th anniversary of gender equal prize money.
It is a landmark that has yet to be replicated across all of tennis as the WTA announced earlier this year a “pathway to handing out equal prize money” at combined WTA 1000 and 500 events, starting from 2027.
“It’s certainly a proof point of the value of women’s sport, of women’s tennis, when the fans are showing up in the stadiums and loving it,” she said. “And then we know the fans are showing up and consuming on ESPN and around the world.”
World number three Gauff will next compete in the WTA Finals in Cancun, with the season-ending tournament kicking of the group stage on Sunday. “I am looking forward to seeing how Coco performs with, you know, a greater spotlight on her. She’s had a spotlight on her for a long time. This is a marathon. It’s not a sprint,” said Allaster. “We have seen her resilience.”