Though it may be an unofficial title, “America’s tennis sweetheart” carries a lot of history and prestige behind it—along with no shortage of pressure. From Chris Evert to Tracy Austin to Serena Williams—and so many more—teenage champions from the U.S. have played a prominent role in the narrative of the WTA tour for decades.

Over the past several years, Coco Gauff has led the charge among her young peers, with achievements that earmarked her for greatness—or, at least, “America’s sweetheart” status—before she got out of her teens.

The junior world No. 1 ranking. A win at 15 over five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams. A WTA Top 10 singles ranking, while sitting atop the doubles standings. A handful of titles, and a Roland Garros final.

At Wimbledon this year, however, Gauff experienced something new at the All England Club: a first-round loss. Though it came at the hands of former Grand Slam champion Sofia Kenin, it was still a shock as Gauff had earned a spot among the contenders for the title.


Over the past year leading up to that point, there had been a lot of discussion about the state of Gauff’s game, particularly her forehand. Many pundits were saying that the book was out on the young American, and that that stroke was easier to break down.

Returning to the U.S. in preparation for the summer hard-court stretch, the 19-year-old shored up her coaching staff with none other than Brad Gilbert, the former world No. 4 turned Grand Slam-winning coach turned broadcaster, who hadn’t been in a player’s box in years.

The impact was immediate: Entering the WTA 500 tournament in Washington, D.C. as the third seed, Gauff stormed to the title without dropping a set.


Going from there to the consecutive 1000-level tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati, Gauff reached the quarterfinals in the first event, before hitting another milestone in the Midwest, where she claimed her fifth career title. And she did so with her first-ever win against world No. 1 Iga Swiatek along the way.

If she had ever left, it was official: Gauff was back. In great form for the last Grand Slam of the year, the US Open, the teenager extended her dream summer with a run that solidified her status as one of the game’s brightest stars. From “winning ugly,” to outright romping, to overcoming off-court protests, Gauff wrapped up the hard-court swing with her first Grand Slam title, topping Aryna Sabalenka in a thrilling final.

With the win, Gauff became the first American to emerge triumphant in New York since 2017. She also joined Williams, Evert and Austin as teenagers from the U.S. to win their home Slam in the Open Era.

A noteworthy achievement for America’s new tennis sweetheart.