After the world’s No. 1 tennis player, Naomi Osaka, knocked 15-year-old Coco Gauff out of the U.S. Open on Saturday — nabbing her 10th straight win in the Grand Slam event — the victor showed more than just her athletic prowess.
As Gauff fought to hold back tears before the packed Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, New York, Osaka invited the young prodigy to join her post-match interview with ESPN.
Gauff, returning the favor, took the opportunity to praise the performance of the woman by whom she had just been beaten on the court, calling her skill “amazing.”
“I’m going to learn a lot from this match, and she’s been so sweet to me, so thank you for this,” Gauff said. “I don’t want people to think that I’m trying to take this moment away from her, because she really deserves it.”
Gauff then shared a hug with Osaka, prompting a roar of cheers from the audience.
Asked how it feels to no longer be the youngest face in the game, 21-year-old Osaka expressed pride in Gauff’s progress, taking no credit for her competitor’s success.
“I don’t think I’m a mentor,” Osaka said, turning to Gauff’s trainers. “You guys raised an amazing player. I remember I used to see you guys training in the same place as us, and for me, the fact that both of us made it and we’re both still working as hard as we can, I think it’s incredible, and I think you guys are amazing. I think, Coco, you’re amazing.”
Following her 6-3, 6-0 win, Osaka will advance to the round of 16 on Monday in which she will face off against Belinda Bencic, who is ranked No. 13.