"I probably grew enough for 10 lifetimes between January & now," the 19-year-old tennis star wrote on Instagram
Coco Gauff cemented her tennis star status this year. Now, she’s reflecting on its ups and downs.
“2023 season is officially over. hard to sum [up] this season in a few words,” the 19-year-old athlete began a post on Instagram on Monday — two days after her season ended with a hard loss to the U.S.’s Jessica Pegula in the semifinal round of the WTA Finals.
“I saw my darkest and brightest days of my life this year,” she continued. “I probably grew enough for 10 lifetimes between January & now lol. I usually don’t say this but I am learning to be nicer to myself haha (I get questioned all the time by family, press, and y’all for not saying this) but yes I AM proud of myself.”
“I am proud of the resilience showed,” she concluded. “They really tried to count me out but it is all in God’s plan and His timing.”
Gauff’s message resonated with many, including fellow tennis star and friend Ben Shelton, who commented, “Yes ma’am 🐐,” and shared the post on his own Instagram Story.
In September, Gauff became a Grand Slam champion, securing her first major women's singles title at the 2023 US Open.
She emerged with a victory after a massive comeback in a three-set slugfest with Belarus' Aryna Sablenka — and became the youngest American to win the tournament since Serena Williams in 1999.
While reflecting post-win, Gauff told the crowd, "I feel a little bit in shock at this moment. That French Open loss was a heartbreak for me, and that makes this moment even more sweeter than I could imagine."
"I'm just thankful for this moment, I don't have any words for it to be honest," she said in the post-match ceremony.
On her epic comeback, the athlete simply said, "I just knew that if I didn't give it my all I had no shot at winning."
The tennis star’s epic win earned her more than just a trophy. Following her victory, Gauff caught the attention of public figures outside of the tennis world, including President Joe Biden and Barack Obama.
President Biden shared a message of support for the young athlete on X (formerly known as Twitter), writing, “Congrats to U.S. Open Champion @CocoGauff. You electrified Arthur Ashe stadium and the entire nation – the first of more to come and proof that anything is possible if you never give up and always believe. You’ve made America so proud.”
Obama — who also met the tennis champion and her parents, Candi and Corey Gauff on night one of the tournament — took to Instagram to write, “Congratulations to US Open champion, @CocoGauff! We couldn’t be prouder of you on and off the court - and we know the best is yet to come.”
Gauff, who already had a decorated tennis career before the 2023 US Open — she burst onto the tennis scene in 2019 at only 15, and secured wins at the Mubadala DC Citi Open and the Western and Southern Open in August — chatted with PEOPLE about her goals going into the tournament back that month.
“For me, the most important thing is to try to minimize the moment because the moment can seem so big,” she told PEOPLE.
“It was probably easier when I first started playing,” Gauff said. “I think I just didn't really understand the whole thing that was going on, especially in 2019 when I had that run. I didn’t understand how big of a deal it was.”
“And I think now I do have that understanding, so sometimes I make it almost too much of a deal when it's not,” she continued. “So, I do find myself trying to go back to that mindset that I had, but obviously I'm a different person then than now, so it's not that easy.”
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At the time, Gauff also said the win would “mean a lot to me.”
“For me, the goal is to win. That’s the ultimate goal,” she told PEOPLE. “Obviously, there's minor ones along the way, and I think the biggest one is trying to make sure I control the matches on my side of the court, and I think that will help me get to that ultimate goal.”
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