After a competitive match, Naomi Osaka bested 15-year-old rising tennis star Coco Gauff, ending the teen’s run at the U.S. Open. Noticing an emotional and teary-eyed Gauff on the sidelines, Osaka did something any great winner would do: she offered her support.
On Saturday, after Osaka won her match against Gauff by 6-3, 6-0 solidifying herself as the defending champion, she noticed the teen crying on the sidelines. She gave Gauff a hug and encouraged her to address the 23,000 or so folks in the Arthur Ashe Stadium stands, according to The Associated Press. Encouraged by this gesture, Gauff obliged and expressed her gratitude.
“She just proved that she’s a true athlete. For me, the definition of an athlete is someone who on the court treats you like your worst enemy, but off the court can be your best friend,” Gauff said at a news conference, The AP wrote. “I think that’s what she did tonight.”
The 21-year-old two-time major champion, who has made history in her own right, praised Gauff, who has come a long way. AP reported that Gauff was previously ranked at No. 313 at the start of Wimbledon and is now No. 140.
“For me, it’s crazy to me to see how far she’s come in such a little amount of time,” said Osaka.
After admitting she had not been this focused since the Australia Open, Osaka went on to apologize to Gauff for playing her with “this type of mentality.”
Obviously, there was no love lost between the two as Gauff praised her opponent for getting the win, which is not surprising since the girls’ fathers are friends, according to AP.
“She was crying; she won. I was crying. Everybody was crying,” Gauff said. “I was like, ‘You won the match!’”
Osaka’s next match, which will take place on Monday, is against 13th-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland.