Gauff-Stephens game at US Open, another sign of Williams' legacy

When Sloane Stephens and Coco Gauff face off at the US Open on Wednesday night, their pulling power as young black women at Arthur Ashe ...


When Sloane Stephens and Coco Gauff face off at the US Open on Wednesday night, their pulling power as young black women at Arthur Ashe Stadium will be just the latest showcase in the legacy of sisters Venus and Serena Williams.

Neither of the Williams sisters are making this year’s tournament due to injuries – the first time both sisters have been away from Flushing Meadows since 2003. But their presence is clear throughout the tournament even though they are not on the pitch. .

When Venus Williams reached her first US Open final in 1997, she was the first black woman to do so in almost 40 years. Now, black women’s success in the tournament is the norm. In the four women’s singles tournaments from 2017 to 2020, six of the eight places in the final were filled by black players. Naomi Osaka has won the tournament twice – including in 2018 against Serena Williams – and Stephens defeated Madison Keys for the title in 2017. Serena Williams also reached the final in 2019.

Stephens beat Keys in the first round on Monday in a rematch of their 2017 final, which led to his clash with Gauff in the second round.

Gauff, 17, wasn’t born the last time the US Open was without either of the Williams sisters. She said when she was younger, her dad “spent a lot of money” on front row tickets at Ashe to watch the Williams up close.

“Since I was 8, pretty much every year I really watch them,” Gauff said. “That’s probably the only reason we’ve spent so much money on tickets and travel is to watch them play.”

Stephens, 28, was not particularly close to the Williams sisters although she admired them as a child. But she bonded with Gauff, who grew up near Stephens, Florida.

“The evolution of her game has been really great,” said Stephens, who said she had known Gauff since Gauff was 8 and called him “Cocofina” as a nickname.

“To be as established as she is now is super inspiring, super awesome,” Stephens said. She added: “She has a lot of amazing things that she does in her game. Obviously she is young so she still has things to work on, but I think she is a very established player with great things in her game. his game.

Gauff said playing Stephens at the US Open would be a “complete moment.”

“I’ve known her for a long time so I don’t even know what the first memory is,” Gauff said of Stephens. “I remember when I was 10, I had a birthday party at a water park, and she came there, which is really cool. All of my friends were thrilled that Sloane Stephens was on your birthday.

Gauff reached the final of the 2017 US Open junior tournament at the age of 13, the year Stephens won the first singles title.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Gauff-Stephens game at US Open, another sign of Williams' legacy
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