“Coco Gough, that game was not easy. Describe what it was like to play this game” interviewer asked the tennis prodigy shortly after his U.S. Open first-round win. The 19-year-old paused before replying with a smirk, “Slow down,” causing the crowd to erupt in cheers and applause.

Gauff went viral on social media after she and a referee turned a blind eye to a rule violation by her 35-year-old German opponent during Monday’s U.S. Open match. Everyone from TikTok fans to the Obamas praised the young player for standing up for himself and showing maturity in handling the situation. Others compared her treatment to that of another tennis legend, 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams, in the 2018 US Open final.

Gauff rushed to the referee after serving, her opponent Laura Siegemund (Laura Siegemund) she raised her handsclaiming she wasn’t ready.

“When I served, she was never ready. She was overtime about four times. You violated her time once. How is that fair?” Gauff argued to the referee in the third set.

Not only was her opponent unprepared for Goff’s serve on several occasions, but Sigmund also repeatedly exceeded the 25 seconds between the player’s serve and the start of play. Everyone also noticed this.in a press conference After the game, Goff said she heard the crowd yell “Time’s up” and point to her wrist.

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The referee replied that Goff served too quickly. Gauff defended herself, arguing that the referee took too long to decide the match point at the end of the match and cut her 25-second time to make it look like she was serving unusually fast.

“I’ll go at normal speed. Ask any ref here and I’ll go at medium speed,” Goff said, as the crowd cheered her on in the stands. “I don’t care what she does on her serve, but my serve, she has to be ready.”

An ESPN commentator praised her for “well said” and joked, “It seems like she doesn’t have a big enough audience,” referring to an already partisan American audience.

aftermath

Later in the game, the referee penalized Zigmund for two violations: once for exceeding the allotted time on Siegmund’s serve, and again for not being ready to catch Gauff’s serve. Gauff eventually won the game 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

in her press conferenceSigmund tearfully expressed her displeasure at being booed by the crowd during the game. “As a tennis player, you are a performer. You owe it to the people… At the end of the day, I go home and I can look at myself and I can say I did a good job, but I get it from the people for that. What is it?”

“They treated me like I was a liar,” she added. “They treated me like I was a bad person.”

Some TikTok users guess Sigmund’s actions were deliberate. As an older and more experienced player, Sigmund may have deliberately spent an inordinate amount of time on serves and returns to frustrate and intimidate her younger opponents.

Gauff said she has no regrets about how she handled the matter, but her team said she should have spoken up sooner.

“I actually watched this video while taking an ice bath,” Gauff said at a news conference. “Because sometimes you have these emotions, you forget what you said. I still say everything I said in that moment again.”

The Obamas who watched the game were also impressed. The former president and his wife met with Gauff and praised her maturity and standing her ground, she said.

Risk up to $3 million

Goff is no stranger to the world of professional tennis, having turned professional in 2018 at the age of 14. At 15, she defeated seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams at Wimbledon. The following year, she again defeated Williams and former No. 1 Naomi Osaka at the 2020 Australian Open.That was the same race that Williams’ sister Serena attended accidentally lost in the first week.

Goff’s current ranking number 6 in the world. Even though Gauff and Serena Williams have never gone head-to-head in a professional match, the referee’s unfair treatment of the pair has drawn comparisons.williams has a infamous outbreak At the 2018 US Open, accused referee Carlos Ramos of questioning her integrity and punishing her harder than men.

Amira Rose Davis, a professor of race, gender, sports and politics at the University of Texas, called Gauff in an essay Serena Williams’ ” legal heir” NPR interviewpointing to their prominence as black athletes in a predominantly white sport and their viral controversy with referees.

But despite the comparisons, Goff said she doesn’t want to follow in Serena Williams’ footsteps. She told us she just wanted to be “the best version of myself and do the best I can” people magazine Thursday.

Gauff is the favorite to win the U.S. Open, which awards $3 million in prize money to the men’s and women’s singles champions.But the child prodigy is reportedly earning $1 million a year by the age of 15 Forbes.goff has a lot sponsorincluding the sneaker collection new Balanceas well as rackets and tennis equipment brand series head.

Gauff’s viral performance at the U.S. Open has thrust the young player further into the public eye. ESPN posted a video of the argument on TikTok, where it garnered more than 19.9 million views and 2.4 million likes in three days. These comments overwhelmingly support Gauff.

One user commented: “Am I a tennis fan? No, but am I a Coco fan? Yes baby.”

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