Cori Gauff and Serena Williams at the US Open: Racket Handover of the Tennis Generations
One is 37 years old and has already achieved everything, the other is only 15 - but has (unless most experts are wrong) a great tennis career in front of him. At the US Open this year, a racket handover of the US tennis generations is underway.
Serena Williams is a legend, but after her traumatic US Open defeat in 2018, she still has a lot to do in New York: she wants to retire the Grand Slam record from Margaret Court (24 titles) - and if possible, even trump. Currently Williams is in 23 titles.
For Cori Gauff, on the other hand, everything is so new.
"Go, Coco, go"
Gauff, 15, joined the Louis Armstrong Stadium, the newest court in New York's Queens district, on Tuesday for the first time in her life. Although it was "only" a day session and the first round of the tournament, almost all 14,000 seats were occupied.
The nickname of the teenager is already a battle cry: "Go, Coco, go!", They chanted, the echo carried beyond the open stadium roof out into the sky. "Go, Coco, go!"
They call it "Cocomania" - and USA Today magazine has already crowned it the "World's Greatest Tennis Federation."
Gauff was only two months ago to the term when she beat Serena's sister Venus Williams at her Wimbledon premiere, her idol, and then fought his way to the second round. With the hope of youth, she promptly announced that she wanted to become the greatest female tennis player of all time.
But now she has to go through the US Open.
And then she stumbled, with all the fun. Her opponent on Tuesday was Russian 18-year-old Anastasia Potapova, who has been a talker for a long time. "I'm Every Woman," Whitney Houston's self-realization hymn, came out of the speakers in greeting. Dozens of telephoto lenses eyed Gauff, but one quickly realized that she was still a girl.
A sports family
The first set she lost 3-6 in half an hour, often powerless against Potapova's groaning serve. Sometimes aggressive, sometimes erratic, she bets chances and haute simple balls into the net.
Anyway, the crowd was on their side. "You go, girl!" They shouted. "Come on!" Father Corey, who was already training her when she was six, was sitting in the front of the "Coco" T-shirt and jumping up again and again.
Sport is great in this family. The father played basketball, the grandfather baseball, the mother was champion in the heptathlon. In Delray Beach near Miami, they are a training community, yet live the normal everyday life: shopping, cinema, pizza.
The second sentence Gauff conquered back. More confident and stronger, she found her groove as if she had to warm up first. Potapova fought loudly, in vain, in the end it was 6: 2. Gauff clenched his fists.
"Everything so blurry"
She does not have to do it all. "I do not think it would be great for them to win the Open," said Chris Evert, who took her first open title in 1975 at 20, the day before: it would be better if Gauff "a normal 15-year-old" remained ,
At least now she is not losing. The third set became a thrill, Gauff finally prevailed 6: 4.
"I was nervous when I came to the court," she said afterwards. But the audience really helped her a lot. The chants, the cheers, all that was new to her and "cool" and "a great atmosphere to play with".
Was that also the reason that she had berappelt in the second sentence? "Honestly, I can not remember the match," she said, giggling. "It's all so blurry."
Williams quickly wanted to see her baby after her win
While Gauff still wrestled with nebulous emotions, Serena Williams wrestled with other demons. Although she swept away on Monday her eternal rival Maria Sharapova from Russia 6: 1, 6: 1 in 59 minutes from the square. But the shadow of 2018 hung over her, just because everyone here is asking for it.
Last year Williams and the Japanese national Naomi Osaka had come to a head in the finals: a quarrel with the referee won them over, Osaka won in tears, such a scandal did not last long the US Open.
This was preceded by injuries, psychostress, the advancing age - and above all the pressure that only the best is good enough for the best. Williams won her first Open in 1999, how can it be done?
"You have no idea how much that means to me," she beamed after the victory on Monday. And now? "I only want to have my baby." Over time, even the claims of a champion change, or that's why.