Gauff emergence as next American superstar great for women's tennis, says Robson

By Sports Desk January 10, 2024

Coco Gauff's emergence as arguably the biggest star of American tennis since Serena Williams is great for the women's game, says former British number one Laura Robson.

Gauff captured the imagination of the American public by winning the US Open last September, the 19-year-old fighting back to beat Aryna Sabalenka in a memorable final at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

That made the teenager the first American – male or female – to win the tournament since Williams, who won the event for the sixth time in 2014. Gauff, Williams and her sister Venus are the only American women to claim the trophy in the 21st century.

Gauff will look to back up that success at the Australian Open when the first major of the year begins on Sunday, and Robson is delighted to see her thriving after being criticised earlier in 2023.

"I love what she's done in the last three months in particular, because over the clay courts and the grass-court season, everyone was writing her off," Robson told Stats Perform.

"She just went back to the drawing board, got a new team around her, played unbelievably at the Cincinnati Masters and came into the US Open with confidence. 

"You could tell, with the way that she played the longer matches, she just felt so good about her game. You could see how she was moving out there. 

"She is definitely the fastest out on tour at the moment on the women's side. I'm just super pumped for her. 

"To be in the stadium and to feel the energy when she won the US Open was crazy.

"I'd say 99.99 per cent of the stadium was going for her and it's going to be a huge boost for women's tennis to have an American superstar like her."

Asked whether Gauff was the natural successor to Williams – who finished her glittering career one major title shy of Margaret Court's record of 24 – Robson said other players' efforts to push American tennis forward should not be overlooked.

"I definitely feel like Jessica Pegula and Madison keys and people like that don't quite get enough credit for how much they've pushed American tennis," Robson continued. 

"Even going into the US Open, Pegula was the number one American, but Coco definitely had more attention on her, which is great because their different profiles are being raised, but at the same time they were still pushing each other along and playing doubles together almost every week. 

"It's just fantastic to see and the fact that there's now another name that you're throwing into the mix just makes everyone feel better."

Gauff currently sits a career-high third in the world rankings, though she has plenty of ground to make up on the top two, with Iga Swiatek currently edging out Sabalenka. 

Robson expects that duo to trade places often as they battle to dominate the women's game, saying: "You definitely struggle to see Swiatek losing at Roland Garros, with the way that she goes on clay.

"I think it's going to be quite nice because they each have different strengths. You would almost say Sabalenka goes slightly better on a hard court and Iga is better on clay.

"I can see it almost swapping back and forth over the next few years, but Iga is going to be right in there, for sure."

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