Coco Gauff claims first U.S. Open title, kneels in prayer to give thanks to God

A straight-sets loss in the 2022 French Open final was tough for Coco Gauff to swallow. But on Saturday, she found herself in another Grand Slam final, and this time it was her moment.

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The 19-year-old U.S. tennis star defeated Aryna Sabalenka in three sets to claim her first Grand Slam title and become the first American teenager to win the tournament since Serena Williams in 1999.

After losing the first set 6-2, the sixth-seeded Gauff dominated the second and third sets to knock off the second-seeded Sabalenka. Following the match, Gauff was overcome with emotion, falling to the court in tears before running into the stands to embrace her family and coaches. Then she headed back to the court, where she kneeled at her chair and said a prayer to God.

“It’s been so important,” Gauff said after the match when asked about her faith by ESPN’s Mary Jo Fernandez. “I don’t pray for results, I just ask that I get the strength to give it my all and whatever happens happens. I’m so blessed in this life. So I’m just thankful for this moment. I don’t have any words for it, to be honest.”

American tennis star Coco Gauff kneels to pray following her U.S. Open win. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Gauff grew up attending the U.S. Open with her father as young child, watching Venus and Serena Williams ascend to the top of the tennis world. It was her dream to one day be on the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium holding up the championship trophy.

“It means so much to me. I feel like I’m a little bit in shock in this moment,” Gauff told ESPN. “That French Open loss was a heartbreak for me, but I realized God puts you through tribulations and trials, and this makes this moment more sweeter than I could have imagined.”

Gauff broke onto the professional tennis scene in May 2018 and the age of 14, and since then she’s never shied away from talking about how important her faith in God is for her everyday life and her tennis career. As Sport and Faith reported, Gauff has done numerous interviews where she’s talked about how her faith has helped her stay humble as her fame has grown, and how she’s used her platform as an avenue to share about God.

In a 2019 interview with the New York Times, Gauff said she and her father pray before every match.

“Before every match since I was 8, my dad and I say a prayer together,” she said. “We don’t really pray about victory, just that me and my opponent stay safe. After the match, I was just thanking God for this opportunity.”

It’s no different on her social media pages, where she often talks about God, as she did following the end of the 2022 season.

“We live, we learn, but most importantly we keep trying,” she wrote. “2022 season is officially over and definitely one I’ll never forget. Thank you God for strengthening me at my lowest and highest points this season. #thebestisyettocome”


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In August, Gauff won the Masters 1000 event at the Cincinnati Open, defeating Karolina Muchova in the championship. Once again, she thanked God following the match.

“This is unbelievable. Especially after what I went through in Europe earlier this summer,” she said. “I’m just happy to be in this moment. I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I spent a lot of nights alone, crying trying to figure it out. I still have a lot to figure out, but I thank Him for covering me.”

Sabalenka will be the No. 1-ranked player in the world come Monday, and Gauff will likely slide into the top five. She told Stylist Magazine that whether she’s winning or losing, her faith keeps her grounded.

“I try to stay positive and not let the negative things affect me too much,” she said. “My faith helps me stay focused on my goals and what I want to achieve.”

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