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After Osaka, 21, the defending U.S. Open champion, beat Gauff and advanced to the next round, she invited the tearful 15-year-old to join her during her post-match interview. Gauff repeatedly said no, not wanting to cry on camera. That’s when Osaka gave her some real advice: “it’s better than crying in the shower,” and Gauff gave in.
"I'm going to learn a lot from this match. She's been so sweet to me, so thank you for this. Thank you,” Gauff said through tears to ESPN.
Gauff went on to emphasize that while she was grateful for the opportunity to speak following her first senior U.S. Open, she didn’t want people to think “I’m trying to take this moment away from [Naomi], because she really deserves it.” The crowd roared as Osaka embraced Gauff once again.
Both Osaka and Gauff live in Florida and have known each other for years. ESPN Tennis Analyst, Mary Joe Fernández, called Osaka a “class act” and asked her what it’s like to mentor someone like Gauff.
"I don't think I'm a mentor," Osaka said to ESPN, and then turned to address Gauff’s parents, through tears. "I remember I used to see you guys training in the same place as us. For me, like the fact that both of us made it, and we're both still working as hard as we can, I think it's incredible. I think you guys are amazing. I think, Coco, you're amazing."
The incredible showing of sportsmanship between the ladies garnered praise from tennis fans and non-tennis fans alike, including tennis legend Billie Jean King.
Congratulations to @Naomi_Osaka_, who showed greatness on and off the court. @CocoGauff now knows what she needs to do to get to No. 1. How fortunate we all are to have witnessed the dawning of a new era in women’s tennis. #USOpen
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) September 1, 2019
“Congratulations to @Naomi_Osaka_, who showed greatness on and off the court. @CocoGauff now knows what she needs to do to get to No. 1. How fortunate we all are to have witnessed the dawning of a new era in women’s tennis,” she tweeted.
Osaka and Gauff continued to sing each other's praises online, as well.
— Coco Gauff (@CocoGauff) September 1, 2019
“Keep your head up, you’ve got so much to be proud of. Warrior @CocoGauff,” Osaka tweeted. Gauff responded with compliments of her own: “Thank you! You are a class act. I appreciate your support #rolemodel.”
Watch the full exchange below, and trust, you’ll need tissues.
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