Coco Gauff is a 19-year-old American girl, but she is different from most others. Gauff pursued her far-reaching goals and dreams, relentlessly and resiliently winning the 2023 U.S. Open. Getting to know Gauff beyond her victorious tennis career is like wading into the ocean — the depth, mystery and beauty only increase.

Why did the United States, which can sometimes be racially divided, come together to cheer on this young African American woman?

Her humility and relatability caused people to be infatuated with who she is as a person. Gauff had huge dreams of winning the U.S. Open since she was eight years old, thanks to her father and mother, Corey and Candi Gauff.

She is a teenage girl with every reason to take all of the credit for her success for herself; but instead, she credits her parents who gave up their jobs to help her start a tennis career. This act demonstrates humility, which is refreshing to the athlete world that can often come across as cocky or untouchable.

Gauff has shown that she is just a regular girl dealing with emotions like all of us. This was especially evident when she played Laura Siegemund, who Gauff felt was illegally taking too long of a break between points. 

Gauff advocated for herself to the umpire in a respectful manner, and Gauff’s win demonstrated nobility, sportsmanship and pure joy.

The answer to this question is her character. Good character attracts people, and it brings people together for a greater purpose.

Is her social media presence a sudden but lasting inspiration or just a trend?

Ever since Gauff won the U.S. Open, she has been a trending topic on social media.

TikTok, Instagram and X, formerly known as Twitter, are filled with people posting her accomplishments — people who have never acknowledged her existence before. Although this is a trend, people may be genuinely invested in this young woman’s career because they found out about her on social media.

Unfortunately, many athletes have to deal with people only caring about how many times they win a game or how good they play to win a fan’s love or attention. Gauff is undeniably experiencing people hopping on her bandwagon because she is a winner of the U.S. Open. However, some of her fans have been genuinely invested from the beginning.

Time will be the indicator of the nation’s true interests, but Gauff’s life and career are worthy of being celebrated, focused on and inspired by.

What is the greater meaning of it all?

The activist Malcolm X once said, “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.”

America’s reaction to Gauff’s accomplishment can tell us about being a Black woman in America — specifically being a young Black woman with passion, talent and success. 

Being a person of color — which is oftentimes the minority in the U.S. — is marginalizing. People of color are oftentimes ignored, overlooked, hyper-criticized and judged simply because they are the minority. Gauff is deserving of every praise she receives, and the fact that she did this as a young Black woman is all the more phenomenal. 

The answer to the aforementioned question is complex. America’s reaction leads us to believe that as long as you are exceptional in your career field you will be noticed, acknowledged and celebrated. Gauff’s Blackness, however, cannot and should not be ignored in the praises for her success. Her Blackness adds more to the story. 

In this world, it seems like a Black woman has to be exceptional in everything to be acknowledged by others. Malcolm X spoke those words to America over half a century ago, and today’s America seems to still be searching for how to have a healthy recognition of Black women.

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Sami Grace Donnelly | Opinion Editor

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