Gauff gives God the glory for slam win

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She prays before every match, and after winning the US Open, tennis star Coco Gauff got on her knees to thank God for Grand Slam glory.

The 19-year-old had just beaten Aryna Sabalenka in three sets to claim her first major, and she knew who to thank – prostrating herself at her court seat as the world’s TV cameras rolled.

“Before every match since I was 8, my dad and I say a prayer together,” she told the New York Times. “We don’t really pray about victory, just that me and my opponent stay safe. After the match, I was just thanking God for this opportunity.”

Gauff came from a set down to defeat world number two Sabalenka 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 at Flushing Meadows, Queens, when it would have been easy to fear the worst after that first set.

She’d already lost one major final, at the French Open the previous year, when a straight-sets demolition by Poland’s Iga Świątek could have destroyed her confidence.

Instead, the setback proved pivotal.

“That French Open loss was a heartbreak for me, but I realised God puts you through tribulations and trials, and this makes this moment more sweeter than I could have imagined.”

Some of the confidence had already been restored with her first WTA 1000 title win, in August at the Cincinnati Open, where she beat world number one Świątek in the semi-finals on her way to triumph.

A month later, it got even better at the US Open.

She told ESPN after the Flushing Meadows win: “I’m so blessed in this life. So I’m just thankful for this moment. I don’t have any words for it, to be honest.”

Gauff does have the words on social media, however, to praise God.

She posted: “I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I spent a lot of nights alone, crying trying to figure it out. I still have a lot to figure out, but I thank him for covering me.”

She added: “I try to stay positive and not let the negative things affect me too much. My faith helps me stay focused on my goals and what I want to achieve.”

Gauff attends the Saint John Missionary Baptist Church in Florida, where she’s a member of the choir.

In a tennis world of fame and fortune, her Christian background could prove crucial.

“I try to stay humble and remember that I’m just a girl from Florida who loves to play tennis,” Gauff told Because of Them We Can. “My faith helps me stay grounded and remember what’s important.”

From New Life Newspaper issue 348

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