September 12, 2023
Melinda Head

An Athlete in His Prime and a Debutante

Who says tennis can’t be thrilling without Roger and Serena?

The US Open men’s and women’s singles championships wrapped up this weekend, with defiant 36-year-old Novak Djokovic taking back his title from Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, and 19-year-old American Coco Gauff showing us all what we’ve been waiting for – her first major title in front of a home crowd.

Djokovic won his 4th US Open crown in 3 commanding sets and his 24th major title – the most earned by any male in tennis history. What more can he do in the sport? One elusive goal is winning all 4 major championships in one calendar year: no man has had a Grand Slam to his name since Aussi Rod Laver in 1969.

Leftie Rod Laver is the last male to win all 4 major championships in 1 calendar year … way back in 1969. Age 85, he now lives in California. Can Djokovic match Laver’s accomplishments?

After the winning match, Djokovic extended his reach to basketball fans, by honoring Kobe Bryant, who wore a #24 jersey for the LA Lakers before tragically dying in a helicopter crash in 2020.

“Kobe was a close friend … we chatted a lot about the winner’s mentality, he was one of the people that I relied on the most, he was always there for counselling advice, support … I thought 24 is the jersey that he wore, so … it could be a nice symbolic thing to acknowledge him for all … he’s done.” (Novak Djokovic)

Kobe Bryant, #24, was a confidant for many athletes, including Novak Djokovic. He tragically died in a helicopter crash with his daughter and other passengers

Many have been waiting for Gauff to step into the limelight. Managed by TEAM8, Gauff undoubtedly has access to the experience of Roger Federer, who is one of the founding partners of the sports and entertainment company. Master strategist Brad Gilbert and author of “Winning Ugly”, joined her coaching team this summer with instant results.  Nineteen-year-old Gauff will be a story to follow, as she adds gas to the fire.

“Stop thinking about yourself, and your own game, and remember that the guy on the other side of the net has weaknesses.” (Brad Gilbert has stepped back into the coaching ring after serving as a commentator for ESPN while awaiting the perfect promising player)

Coco Gauff and her new tennis strategist, Brad Gilbert

“The game is simple: if you can break and you hold (serve) more than your opponent, you win. She made some big changes on the fly … that I implemented. It’s made a huge difference.” (Brad Gilbert)

When a player is horizonal on the court at the end of a game, we all know what that means. Coco Gauff had that feeling for the first time on Saturday at the US Open Championship. She later said: “All the tough times were just to make that moment sweeter”

Gauff became the first teenager since Serena Williams (pictured above) in 1999 to win her home major

“Congrats to U.S. Open Champion @Coco Gauff. You electrified Arthur Ashe stadium and the entire nation – the first of more to come and proof that anything is possible if you never give up and always believe. You’ve made America so proud.” (President Joe Biden)

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About the Author

A serial entrepreneur, Melinda is a sociologist and statistician who believes there is no currency with greater value than knowledge

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