The 2023 US Open Tennis Championship, which took place in New York over the past weekend, was historic for both the women's and men's singles winners. 19-year-old Coco Gauff picked up her first Grand Slam singles title, while 36-year-old Novak Djokovic secured his 24th Grand Slam championship. The term refers to four major tournaments — the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open. Here is a closer look at these two exceptional athletes.
Coco Gauff took the tennis world by storm in 2019 as the youngest qualifier in Wimbledon. The then 15-year-old made it to the fourth round in her Grand Slam debut. Three years later, Gauff competed for her first major title at the 2022 French Open but lost to Iga Swiatek. Though disappointed, she promised to come back stronger.
"I watched Iga lift up that trophy, and I watched her the whole time," Gauff said. "I said, 'I'm not going to take my eyes off her because I want to feel what that felt like for her.'"
2023 did not start out promising for Gauff, who lost in the first round at Wimbledon. Though she had won 18 of the 19 matches since, she arrived at the September 9, 2023, US Open finals as the underdog. Most experts believed 25-year-old Aryna Sabalenka, who has dominated women's tennis this year, would win the championship.
The predictions appeared accurate after Sabalenka breezed through the first set with a 6-2 win. But to everyone's surprise and delight, Gauff returned strong with a 6-3, 6-2 victory in the following two sets. Shortly after winning her first Grand Slam title, the 19-year-old thanked her non-believers for "adding gas" to her fire!
Gauff is the youngest American to win a Grand Slam title since Serena Williams won the same event at age 17 in 1999. She is also only the third American teen to win a US Open singles title. In addition to the accolades and the trophy, the 19-year-old took home a check for $3 million!
Unlike Gauff, Novak Djokovic was expected to win against Daniil Medvedev at the September 10, 2023, final. The pair had met 14 times in their career, and Djokovic had claimed victory in nine of the matches. The 36-year-old tennis phenom had also had a successful 2023. He had reached the finals of all four Grand Slams and won two. His only loss so far had been against Carlos Alcaraz in Wimbledon. Djokovic did not disappoint. He overpowered Medvedev in three straight sets, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3, to clinch his 24th Grand Slam title.
Djokovic now has more men's singles Grand Slam titles than anyone else. His closest competitor, Rafael Nadal, has 22, while Roger Federer has 20. The victory puts the 36-year-old on par with Australian icon Margaret Court. She won 24 titles between 1960 and 1973. Djokovic is also the first man to win three Grand Slam events four times in the same season and the oldest to win a US Open.
"To make the history of this sport is something truly remarkable and special," Djokovic said during the trophy ceremony. "I never imagined that I would be here talking about 24 Slams. I never thought that would be the reality, but the last couple of years, I felt I have a chance, I have a shot at history—and why not grab it if it's presented."
Djokovic, who also took home $3 million in prize money, does not plan to retire from the sport anytime soon. So, expect to hear about more history-making achievements from this tennis phenom!
Resources: theintelligence.net, cbssports.com, USTA.com, CNN.com