Tracy Austin is the youngest person, man or woman, to win the US Open singles tournament.
She thinks 19-year-old American superstar Coco Gauff is ready to win a Grand Slam.
"We've been able to see her talent get better every single year, every single month," Austin told Insider.
Coco Gauff has been competing at the highest levels of tennis for so long, it's easy to forget that she's only 19 years old.
But now, the American phenom has what it takes to break through and win her very first Grand Slam tournament, according to Tracy Austin.
And she knows better than virtually anyone; Austin won the US Open at just 16 years old and remains the youngest-ever player — man or woman — to win the singles tournament.
"Everybody's had their eye on Coco Gauff," Austin told Insider in 2022. "And we've just been able to see her talent get better every single year, every single month. It seems like now, at that age, you improve so rapidly."
"I think she's gonna win a major," she added of the young superstar.
Austin credits that shift to a few factors. She says Gauff has "shored up her forehand," which had been notoriously unpredictable early in her career.
And, crucially, her service game has improved. When she was younger, her serves sometimes became a bit erratic over the course of any given match.
But now, with more experience and maturity working in her favor, Gauff's strong service game has morphed into a tool she can depend on.
"The serve has gotten better, more reliable," Austin said. "Not as many double faults. And the forehand used to be attackable, but now she's such an incredible athlete."
Austin prides herself on her ability to sniff out young talent who boast that "it" factor that makes a tennis champion. But as someone who remembers living "almost two lives" as a Grand Slam champion adored by millions who doubled as a 10th grader attending public high school, Austin knows that "it's very difficult to navigate to the top without any problems" as a young kid in the spotlight.
For her, the key to navigating it all was keeping a level head and maintaining a sense of normalcy. She thinks Gauff, who catapulted into prominence after defeating Venus Williams at Wimbledon in 2019, has managed to do the same.
"She seems to have a great head on her shoulders," Austin said. "So poised out there. She's had so many eyes on her for years now."
And she's thriving like never before.
Gauff entered the 2023 US Open on the hottest streak of her still-young career. She opened August with a win at the Washington Open, where she did not drop a single set en route to the title. Mere weeks later, she earned her biggest championship yet at the Cincinnati Open and bested then-world No. 1 Iga Swiatek in the process.
"I feel confident in my preparation, and I'm feeling confident in my execution," Gauff told Insider ahead of the tournament.
That confidence proved prudent. The Floridian took down former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, and world No. 10 Karolina Muchova on her way to becoming the youngest American since Serena Williams to compete in a US Open singles final.
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