The tennis world has been left divided after footage of women's US Open runner-up Aryna Sabalenka emerged of her smashing a racquet in frustration in the locker room. Sabalenka was left devastated after letting a one-set lead slip to lose the final to American star Coco Gauff.
Sabalenka has enjoyed a remarkable year having already won the Australian Open before reaching two semi-finals and losing in the US Open final. However, she felt just short of her second grand slam in 2023 with Gauff emerging victorious in New York 2-6 6-3 6-2.
The Belarusian was all class after the defeat as she was brought to tears during her post-tournament speech. And she was clearly frustrated with herself when she entered the locker room with her runner-up trophy.
Sabalenka appeared alone in the players' dressing room when she put the trophy down and reached for a spare racquet. And in a moment of frustration she smashed the racquet to let out the anger and emotion.
Her frustration is relatable for many tennis fans and players around the world, with Sabalenka often praised for wearing her heart on her sleeve. However, many in the tennis world found it brutal that the private footage was circulated in the first place.
Fans are rarely allowed access to the locker room in moments of anguish for players. And this was one of Sabalenka's toughest moments in her young career.
Judy Murray, mother of Andy Murray, asked the question why the footage had been released. "This footage should never have been made public. A private moment in an empty training room after the disappointment of losing a grand slam final," Murray wrote.
However, reporter Jose Morgado pointed out the room was constantly recorded during the US Open for viewers. The Netflix crew for the TV show 'Break Point' could also be seen in the top right corner of the shot.
Regardless, some felt Sabalenka deserved to be left alone in this moment. Others felt it showed the human side to tennis players and the extreme emotions they experience playing in front of the world on the hardest stage.
This footage should never have been made public. A private moment in an empty training room after the disappointment of losing a Grand Slam final. https://t.co/ykWjVDUo7F
— judy murray (@JudyMurray) September 10, 2023
I can agree with that, but that place was steamed 24/7 during the entire event. And this was actually filmed in multiple angles, as NETFLIX crew (top right corner) was there too. https://t.co/qqTgvte6MT pic.twitter.com/T2TioDFA5Q
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) September 10, 2023
Oh wow. 😳
I never seen this.
Sabalenka smashing her racket after yesterday’s final loss to Coco Gauff ☹️pic.twitter.com/22kbpnfpau
— Olly 🎾🇬🇧 (@Olly_Tennis_) September 10, 2023
I don't love that they recorded what Sabalenka probably believed was a private moment.
But I do love the emotion.
She handled herself with class on the court & then let frustration out when she returned to the locker room.
Sports are hard and she cares.pic.twitter.com/uwjXLzIljG
— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) September 10, 2023
Coco Gauff win maiden grand slam title
Gauff played the best match of her career to take down the in-form Sabalenka in front of a raucous home crowd. The 19-year-old showed experience to come from a set down to hold her nerve and win a breakthrough grand slam title.
And the moment felt surreal for the champion having previously come close to a grand slam title at the French Open final in 2022. "I feel like I'm in a little bit of shock at the moment," Gauff said after the match.
"I feel like God puts you through tribulations and trials and that makes this even sweeter," added the American, who lost in her only other major singles final at the 2022 French Open.
"I'm thankful for this moment. I don't have any words."
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