Four years after her US Open debut, Coco Gauff fulfilled her Grand Slam destiny at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre.
The No.6 seed fulfilled the potential she has long promised by landing her first Grand Slam title with a fightback win over Aryna Sabalenka in this year's final.
The young American started slowly in front of an expectant home crowd but grew in confidence to wear down second seed Belarusian in New York. Gauff, 19, clinched a 2-6 6-3 6-2 win on a delirious Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows.
It means that world No.1 and Australian Open champion Sabalenka must wait for her second major title. After sealing victory with a backhand winner on her first match point, Gauff, No. 1 ranked in doubles with Jessica Pegula, immediately fell on to the court and sat on the sideline with her head in her hands.
Almost the whole 24,000 crowd, which provided boisterous support throughout as they willed Gauff to victory, erupted in a frenzied celebration. Trying to get over the huge emotions of what her victory meant, she said: "I’m really burning so bright right now. I feel like I'm in a little bit of shock at the moment.
"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," she went on to say. Overcome with emotion, the young Coco made a heart sign to the fans before going up to the stands to see her parents Corey and Candi.
She also silenced a chorus of doubters who questioned everything from her forehand technique to her defensive style. “Thank you to the people who didn’t believe in me,” she said during the trophy ceremony.
“Those who thought they were putting water on my fire were just adding gas to it. I want to say thank you to the people who didn’t believe in me.
“A month ago I won a (WTA) 500 title and people said I would stop at that,” she said. “Two weeks ago I won a (WTA) 1000 title and people were saying that was the biggest title I would get.
“Three weeks later I’m here with this trophy right now. I tried my best to carry this with grace but honestly to those who thought you were putting water on my fire, you were really adding gas to it and now I’m burning so bright right now.
Coco Gauff is now set to rise to a career-high third when the latest rankings are released. Winning a first major at her home Grand Slam, though, will probably mean more to her.