America loves Coco Gauff, and so does ESPN.
Gauff’s first Grand Slam title at the US Open last weekend powered ESPN to record-breaking viewership numbers. On Saturday, 3.4 million people watched Gauff defeat current world No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka in three sets, a 92% increase over the 2022 final between Iga Swiatek and Ons Jabeur, making it the most-viewed women’s singles final ESPN has ever aired.
The men’s final between Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev drew over one million fewer viewers than the women’s, coming in at 2.3 million viewers. The match featured no Americans and no Carlos Alcaraz, one of the most talented and watchable young tennis stars in the world. Alcaraz was defeated by Medvedev, and then Djokovic defeated Medvedev in straight sets to claim his record-tying 24th Grand Slam title.
While the men’s singles final was being played at the same time as a number of Week 1 NFL games, that’s been the case for years. And regardless, it doesn’t look like US Open viewership was affected. The Djokovic-Medvedev final was the most-watched men’s final in three years, up 8% over the 2022 men’s singles final.
The alchemy that drove so many people to watch Gauff in the women’s final is contained in her story. She’s from Atlanta, and is the first American to win a US Open title since 2017. She, like Venus and Serena Williams before her, is a child prodigy who has worked essentially her entire life to become one of the best tennis players in the world. And fans have been able to watch her journey since she was 15, when she made her Grand Slam debut in 2019 and beat Venus Williams, one of her idols.
The US Open ended the 2023 Grand Slam season, so the next major is the Australian Open in January 2024. It’s played on a hard surface, just like the US Open, so it’ll be another chance for Gauff to dominate and draw in more fans.