NEW YORK, NY, USA - The present and the future of women’s tennis faced off under the lights in Arthur Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday as defending US Open champion Naomi Osaka took on 15-year-old wunderkind Coco Gauff for a spot in the fourth round.
But it was what happened after match point that stole the headlines - and the hearts - of tennis fans on Ashe and beyond: after a commanding 6-3, 6-0 thrashing, Osaka comforted the tearful American teen, and encouraged her to join her for a joint post-match interview.
“I said no, because I knew I was going to cry the whole time, but she encouraged me to do it,” Gauff told Mary Joe Fernandez on the court. “She was amazing, I’m going to learn a lot from this match.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 1, 2019
“She’s been so sweet to me, so thank you for this,” she said, addressing Osaka. “I don’t want people to think that I’m trying to take this moment away from her, because she really deserves it. So thank you,” she added, before sharing an embrace with the World No.1.
It was the 15-year-old’s first time competing in the US Open, into the main draw with a wildcard after a head-turning fourth round run at Wimbledon.
Check out the tweet below to watch the pair's entire on-court interview, courtesy of US Open:
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 1, 2019
According to Osaka, she asked Gauff to join her on court in order to give the American an opportunity to address the fans and family who have supported her during a breakthrough summer.
"I was just thinking, like, it would be nice for her to address the people that came and watched her play," Osaka explained in her post-match press conference. "They were cheering for her. Yeah, I mean, for me, it was just something that was, I don't know, instinctive I guess."
Turning to Gauff’s player box, Osaka addressed the player’s family and team. “I just want to say, if you’re still here, you guys raised an amazing player,” she said, fighting back tears.
“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 still working as hard as we can, is incredible.
“I think you guys are amazing. Coco, I think you’re amazing.”
"Here's the thing," Osaka explained in press later. "Like, I literally was training at the same place as her. Like, we would never hit together, but it was always just us putting in the most amount of hours. She was always with her dad just practicing. Honestly, I think she was practicing more than me.
"When I saw [Coco hug her dad before the match], I was, like, Oh, my God... I started getting a little bit emotional. I need to put my game face on.
"Yeah, I mean, for me, it's crazy to me to see how far she's come in such a little amount of time."
The beautiful moment of sportsmanship between the two players didn’t go unnoticed, with fellow players and figures within the tennis world and beyond taking to social media to praise both Gauff and Osaka.
Amazing stuff from both Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka. This is the future , it is here and what great sports these two players are!!! #USOpen2019
— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) September 1, 2019
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) September 1, 2019
Congratulations to @Naomi_Osaka_, who showed greatness on and off the court. @CocoGauff now knows what she needs to do to get to No. 1. How fortunate we all are to have witnessed the dawning of a new era in women’s tennis. #USOpen
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) September 1, 2019
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) September 1, 2019
— Sloane Stephens (@SloaneStephens) September 1, 2019
Amazing moment of grace, respect, humility, and dignity between both Osaka and Gauff there after the match.
— Touré (@Toure) September 1, 2019
when you understand it’s bigger than winning the game @Naomi_Osaka_ 👑🙏🏾❤️
— Janelle Monáe, Cindi (@JanelleMonae) September 1, 2019
— Kelley O'Hara (@kelleymohara) September 1, 2019
— lindsey vonn (@lindseyvonn) September 1, 2019
The present and future of women's tennis are in fine hands
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) September 1, 2019
Tonight's moment between Osaka & Gauff is so iconic & we're gonna remember it for a long time. Osaka gave us a glimpse of what it means to her to witness Gauff's journey, how she relates it to her own, how they are both impacting so many people. It's all connected & lovely to see
— Reem Abulleil (@ReemAbulleil) September 1, 2019
You know the saying "come for the tennis stay for the handshake"?
How about "come for the tennis stay for the omg Naomi just asked Coco to do an on-court interview with her this is amazing I'm SOBBING" instead??? #usopen
— Nick McCarvel (@NickMcCarvel) September 1, 2019
— Nicole Gibbs (@Gibbsyyyy) September 1, 2019
Proud to have Naomi Osaka as our number 1. What a moment.
— Katie Boulter (@KatieBoulter1) September 1, 2019
— Taylor Townsend (@TaylorTownsend) September 1, 2019
— Tracy Austin (@thetracyaustin) September 1, 2019
Defending champion and World No.1 Osaka continues her 2019 US Open campaign in the fourth round, where she'll take on No.13 seed Belinda Bencic.