The biggest tennis match of the U.S. Open took place between two young Black women on Saturday night. But the outcome played second fiddle to the amazing display of empathy and sportsmanship after Naomi Osaka beat the Coco Gauff in straight sets to advance to the Round of 16 in the season-ending major tournament in New York City.
Osaka, who will turn 22 next month, controlled the match from the start, putting on a veritable tennis clinic against her younger but still very impressive 15-year-old opponent.
While Coco showed glimpses of the on-court brilliance that has helped her win huge matches in recent months, including beating Venus Williams at Wimbledon in July, it was Osaka’s experience and poise that helped her dominate.
In that respect, the relatively quick match — while it had its moments — was somewhat of snoozer as it didn’t live up to its hype. But it was what happened after the match that kept viewers’ eyes open — and filled with tears.
After Osaka’s winning point that gave her the match, the two embraced at the net, bypassing the traditional handshake. After Coco went back to her chair, Osaka came over and told a still-sobbing Coco they should do the post-match interview together because “These people are here for you” before going on to tell her that she was “amazing.”
Both players got very emotional during their joint post-match interview, with Osaka saluting Coco’s parents in the audience.
Later, Osaka explained where her benevolent move of sportspanship.
Maybe she was just paying it forward after being on the receiving end of Serena Williams’ consolation at last year’s US Open, even if Osaka was on the winning end of that match, too.
See the full, tear-jerking post-match interview below.
While Coco was bounced from singles competition, there was still plenty of Black Girl Magic remaining at the 2019 U.S. Open. Serena was still the overwhelming favorite to win it all despite Osaka’s impressive defense of her championship last year. Taylor Townsend has also embraced her underdog role by breaking through to the Round of 16 after pulling off two consecutive major upsets following several grueling matches in the qualifying round to make it into the main draw. Madison Keys was still alive in the tournament, too.
Oh, and Coco’s not going anywhere, either. She is still competing in the doubles tournament with partner Caty McNally. The two are undefeated as teammates.