Champion Mindset: Coco Gauff reveals what fueled her to win a US Open title
Sep 10, 2023
How does a champion get fired up? Where do they find the will to win when it's all on the line? US Open champion Coco Gauff gave tennis fans a behind-the-scenes look at how she fueled herself to victory.
After Gauff won her US Open semifinal, she made reference to the late Kobe Bryant as a source of inspiration. Gauff explained that Bryant, when his team was up during the NBA Finals, "whatever lead they have, he doesn’t celebrate... [Kobe might] give himself a pat on the back but time to move on. So that’s the mentality that I have."
Then, Gauff added, "I’m trying to enjoy the moment but also knowing I still have more work to do. Yes, the final is an incredible achievement but it’s something that I’m not satisfied with yet.”
Not satisfied, Gauff had something to prove yesterday. But she was tight. Gauff was tentative in the first set against a hard-hitting Aryna Sabalenka. She ran down tough shots but couldn't get her groove.
Above: Coco Gauff chases down a ball from Aryna Sabalenka in the US Open final. Photo by
In contrast, Sabalenka came ready for battle — tearing the cover off the tennis ball. Gauff stayed defensive. Then things changed. She warmed up in the second set and eventually caught fire. Gauff began to dictate points, hit bigger, and impose her game.
By the third set, Gauff's athleticism, speed, and footwork neutralized Sabalenka's game. She pushed through Sabalenka's immense power to reach the promise land. In the end, Gauff took down Sabalenka, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
The late, great Kobe Bryant provided that initial spark for the final. But was something deeper burning inside her to win the US Open?
Above: Coco Gauff gets fired up. Photo by
During the trophy ceremony, Gauff (of course) thanked her parents, family, coaches, and team. But she decided to take the microphone to emphasize an important point.
Who did she want to thank last? The 19-year-old faces plenty of trolls, haters, and naysayers on social media. And she had a special message just for them.
Gauff smiled and said, "Thank you to the people who didn't believe in me. Like a month ago, I won a 500 title and people said I would stop at that. Two weeks ago, I won a 1000 title and people were saying that was the biggest I was going to get. So three weeks later, I'm here with this trophy right now.
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 on my fire, you're really adding gas to it. And now I'm really burning so bright right now."
Written by Florida Tennis' Executive Editor and Publisher Matt Pressman. Photos by