One of the world's rising stars in women's tennis won her third single's title of the year Sunday and then thanked Jesus for protecting her.
Coco Gauff, 19, defeated Karolína Muchová 6-3, 6-4 in the finals to win the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, her fifth single's title and her most impressive championship yet. The day before, she beat Iga Swiatek, the world's top player, in the semifinals. Two weeks ago, she won the DC Open.
Gauff is ranked No. 6 in the world and is the first teenager to reach five career titles since Caroline Wozniacki in 2008-09. She advanced to the finals of the 2022 French Open but suffered a shocking defeat this year when she lost in the opening round of Wimbledon.
"It's unbelievable," she said in a televised post-game interview Sunday. "... I'm just happy to be here in this moment. I'd like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It's been a lot of nights alone crying trying to figure it out. And you know, I still have a lot to figure out. But you know, I thank Him for covering me."
Gauff's heroes are two American tennis legends who also captured the spotlight as teens: Venus and Serena Williams. She began playing tennis at age six and, at age 15, became the youngest qualifier for Wimbledon in the Open era.
She comes from an athletic family: Her father, Corey, played basketball at Georgia State, while her mother, Candi, competed in track and field at Florida State University.
She also referenced her faith in an interview: "First, I'd like to thank my Father God for this," she said, according to Beliefnet.com. "After losing in first-round Wimbledon, it was a tough situation. You know, a lot of prayers and a lot of support from my church family. So thank you to Him and those who support me."
Gauff's family attends Saint John Missionary Baptist Church in Boynton Beach, Fla.
She has eight career doubles titles.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Michael Hickey/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.