Coco Gauff's beautiful tribute to Serena Williams after US Open win

Pictured left, Coco Gauff pays a beautiful on-court tribute to Serena Williams after winning her first round match at the US Open.
Coco Gauff paid a beautiful on-court tribute to Serena Williams after winning her first round match at the US Open. Pic: Eurosport/Getty

Coco Gauff has given a beautiful on-court tribute to Serena Williams after booking her place in the second round of the US Open with a comfortable straight sets win on the opening day in New York.

The 18-year-old swept aside France's Leolia Jeanjean in one hour and 20 minutes courtesy of a 6-2 6-3 win.

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The 12th seed combined her impressive serve with powerful groundstrokes and speed around the court to overwhelm the World No.149.

Playing on the Arthur Ashe centre court at Flushing Meadows for the first time, Gauff lost only two points on her first serve during an impressive display.

The 18-year-old sealed victory with a booming forehand down the line to set up a second round clash against either Australia's Daria Saville or Romania's Elena Gabriela Ruse.

"This is my first win on Ashe and I think this is my fourth match on this court," Gauff said. "Finally I got a win here so thanks for coming out to support me.

"Anytime you can win a match it's a good day. I was nervous coming into today but once the nerves settled I was having a lot of fun out there.

"I didn't even know that I lost only two points on first serve. Sometimes I just try to hit it as hard as I can."

Gauff admitted that she would - like most of the tennis world - be tuning in to watch Williams in what could be her final grand slam match later in the evening.

In a lovely on-court tribute, the 18-year-old praised the 40-year-old for helping to inspire her own success.

"We all know Serena and the legacy she's had on the court and I definitely wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for her," Gauff said.

"I hope you guys cheer your hardest for her tonight, she definitely deserves it all and more.

"I think if I could make the stadium twice the size it is she definitely deserves that and I hope that we can see her for some more rounds here.

But to be honest, she doesn't owe anything else on the court and I'm just thankful for her."

From left to right, American tennis players Coco Gauff and Serena Williams.
Coco Gauff says Serena Williams has helped inspire her own tennis career. Pic: Getty

Gauff also spoke glowingly of the retiring Williams before the tournament got underway, and the impact she had on aspiring Black athletes such as the 18-year-old.

"Before Serena came along, there was not really an icon of the sport that looked like me.

"So growing up, I never thought that I was different because the No. 1 player in the world was somebody who looked like me.

"I think that's the biggest thing that I can take from what I've learned from Serena."

Simona Halep knocked out in huge shock

In other women's results on day one at Flushing Meadows, unheralded Ukrainian Daria Snigur sprung the first big shock after ousting two-time major champion in Simona Halep.

Halep had won 19 of her last 22 matches and recently returned to the top 10, but the Ukrainian 20-year-old was unworried, clinching a rollercoaster match 6-2 0-6 6-4.

Maria Sakkari gained revenge for her Wimbledon semi-final defeat against 35-year-old German mother-of two Tatjana Maria, after winning a three-set thriller.

Sakkari, now up to No.3 in the world and third seed, justified her superior billing, surviving a second-set wobble to win 6-4 3-6 6-0.

The Greek, who made the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows in 2021, will next meet Diane Parry or Xiy Wang.

Another surprise headliner at Wimbledon was Harmony Tan, who knocked out Serena Williams on the multiple champion's final visit to SW19.

Tan went on to reach the fourth round in London but she will not be making news in New York.

The Frenchwoman, who was given a wildcard entry, has been beaten in the opening round by 2019 US Open champ Bianca Andreescu 6-0 3-6 6-1.

The Canadian will now face Brazil's 15th-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia who thrashed Croatia's Ana Konjuh 6-0 6-0.

Reaching the second round was 17th-seed Caroline Garcia who beat Kamilla Rakhimova 6-2 6-4 and now meets a second lucky loser in Anna Kalinskaya who upset Rebecca Peterson 6-4 6-3.

American Alison Riske, seeded 29th, beat compatriot Eleana Yu 6-2 6-4 and now meets Colombia's Camila Osorio, who dropped only four games after losing the first set to Ann Li 6-1.

Elsewhere Veronika Kudermetova defeated Donna Vekic 7-5 6-3.

with AAP

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