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August 30, 2021

Coco Gauff

New York, New York, USA

Press Conference

C. GAUFF/M. Linette

5-7, 6-3, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Could you describe how you feel after the match and your thoughts on the victory and going into round two.

COCO GAUFF: Yeah, I was definitely very nervous coming into today's match just because it's a first round in your home slam. But honestly I'm glad that I was able to get through it.

The crowd, playing in front of the New York fans, definitely is an experience that I'll never forget. Every time I go out there, I'm just reminded how much I love playing in front of the crowd.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Obviously your dad is your main coach, but how does it work?

COCO GAUFF: I would say Patrick is kind of like the overseer. Definitely I feel like when it comes to tennis, obviously when I'm on the court with him, he gives me pointers here and there. When it comes to the specifics, he definitely talks to my dad more and then my dad passes the message along so there's not so many voices in my head.

I don't really see Patrick that often. But, yeah, he definitely helps a lot. He also helps with getting the right people on my team, figuring out who and what I need to help me succeed. He definitely uses that knowledge that he has from his past coaching experiences to help me, and I guess Stefanos, as well, too.

Q. When Sloane was here after her match, she said she's known you since you were about eight years old. What are your earliest memories of Sloane, watching her play, and your thoughts on facing her next?

COCO GAUFF: I think the first -- well, I've known her for a long time, so I don't even know what the first memory is. I do remember when I was 10 years old, I had a birthday party at a water park, and she came to it, which is really cool. All my friends were excited that Sloane Stephens is at your birthday, professional tennis player. It was really cool. That's probably one of the earliest memories I would say that I remember.

I've also been to a couple of her birthday parties, family get-togethers, I would say, when she was turning 20-something. Somewhere in the 20s. I don't remember. I think I was like 11 or 12.

I've known her for a long time. Her and I started with the same coach, Sly Black, he coached me until at least I was 13. I don't know how long he coached her for. I have a good relationship with her.

Facing her I guess is going to be a full-circle moment just because I was young when I met her, and now we're going to be playing on the biggest stage, one of the biggest stages, on Wednesday.

Q. Your thoughts on the way she plays, her style of game?

COCO GAUFF: Obviously a very athletic player and super fast. I know I'm going to have to expect a lot of balls to come back. She's definitely going to redirect the ball. I think we're both ready. I think it will be an exciting match.

Q. At the end of the first set I could see you were frustrated. The second set I could see the switch. Talk about what you were thinking and what you were saying to yourself.

COCO GAUFF: Yeah, there definitely was a switch. I think I focused more on having fun. I don't know, today was probably one of the most nervous I've been for a match just because everything leading up to the US Open is always so big and grand. So I came, and I didn't want to disappoint all the supporters I had out there cheering me on.

Then I just realized I just need to enjoy it. The people in the stands looked like they were enjoying the match. I think I needed to enjoy it as much as they were.

Q. This is the first Open without the Williams sisters since 2003. I was wondering for you, how does it feel not having them here?

COCO GAUFF: That's crazy. That's before I was born. I didn't realize every year I've watched or played the US Open they've played it.

I do remember coming here since I was eight years old pretty much every year coming to watch them really. That's probably the only reason why we spent so much money on tickets and travel, is to watch them play.

I don't know. I wish them both, like, a speedy recovery and health to get back for the rest of the season.

Not easy to see, especially for me, since I'm a big fan, obviously the reason why I'm here is because of them. So I guess it's a little bit weird not having at least one of them play. But I wish both of them a speedy recovery. I will say the news was definitely shocking for me and I was a tad bit disappointed.

Q. As an eight-year-old, what was it like to see them in person?

COCO GAUFF: Oh, it was crazy. I do remember I sat first row on Arthur Ashe. My dad spent a lot of money on good tickets. I remember when they pass out all the balls at the end of the match, I think one of the balls bounced back on the court because it sometimes happen. This is my assumption, I don't know if it's true, but it looked like she told the ball kid to give it to me because the ball kid directly g0ave the ball to me. I just remember being so excited. This was Venus.

Then Serena I've seen a couple of times on Ashe. That's probably the most significant memory I would have as a kid watching them play.

Q. What do you remember most about when Sloane won the US Open in 2017 in terms of where you were and what you were thinking?

COCO GAUFF: I was actually playing juniors when she won. I lost in the finals, and she won the main, the big thing. I just remember how cool, I was in the finals of the juniors in the US Open and obviously I wanted to win my match. I just remember being happy that she won.

I think I actually played the junior final the day before the final, so I did remember speaking to her. She was just asking me, like what happened during the match because the score was like 3-0 or something. I was obviously disappointed.

I think she had the final the next day, so I definitely was still in New York watching. I don't remember where, but I was in New York.

Q. What did you think of that match?

COCO GAUFF: I thought it was first of all cool. I think that was the year where it was all four Americans in the semifinal. That was my first thought. Second, Sloane and Madison, two young players at the time, coming to play a final, two people that I've seen. I've seen Madison a couple times at USTA training, then obviously Sloane a long time since I was young.

I guess it was kind of cool to see that happen. Especially two Americans in the final, that was pretty cool.

Q. (Question about comparing last year and this year with crowds.)

COCO GAUFF: I definitely enjoy it much more with fans. I will say that during like the two break days, I guess, I call them break days because there's no matches going on, I will say it's nice to walk around with no fans. Normally those are days where it's like practice days. The two break days, I thought it was kind of nice that there was no fans.

Obviously when you go in the match, when the tournament starts, that's when I miss it. I just remember like last year not necessarily being bored, but it was just so quiet for the US Open. I definitely missed the buzz. I missed being in the city. I definitely think that makes a difference mentally, just seeing people in the crowd, being able to walk outside, just see not the same hotel room every day.

Q. Did it contribute to your nerves?

COCO GAUFF: No, I'm always nervous for first round. Honestly, I think they help me more than hurt me, the fans. It's crazy what support can do. People believe in you when you don't believe in yourself. That can really change the way a match goes.

I will never, ever, ever complain about fans in the crowd. Whether they're against me or for me, I just enjoy just hearing noise.

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