Coco Gauff Credits NBA Icon Jimmy Butler for Inspiring Her Mental Focus Heading Into US Open


August 31, 2023

CoCo Gauff is praising NBA legend Jimmy Butler for serving as strong example of mental strength as an athlete.

In the months following her first round loss at Wimbledon this past July, the sixth-seeded Gauff has been on a serious upswing on the court.

The 19-year-old won the Cincinatti Masters in August. And she is preparing to play her third round match at the US Open after beating Laura Siegemund in round one and Mirra Andreeva in straight sets during round two. 

In a post-match press conference following her match on Wednesday, Gauff revealed that it has been her mental fitness that has helped her achieve her improve her performance on the court.

During her chat, she credited basketball player Jimmy Butler with helping her find renewed mental focus.

“That switch I had in the last couple weeks, people think some incredible thing happened,” she said. “But realistically, the two weeks between Wimbledon and the next tournament I played, nothing could have really changed that much. It was really just the mental thing. I think that’s what I learned from watching Jimmy [Butler] compete over the years.”


Bulter was actually in attendance for Gauff’s practice and Wednesday win. 

“Him and my mom spoke for a long time when he was here. …He was like, yeah, he can really see the joy in me again in playing and enjoying the competition, and that I should continue to do that,” Gauff added. “I learned a lot watching him, everybody counting him out. … You have people that are talented and don’t have the mentality. He has the talent and the mentality.”

Gauff also praised her fellow tennis pro Carlos Alcaraz for helping her to remember to always find the fun in the game. 


“The thing I’ve learned the most is how they’re able to handle the situations when they’re not playing their best tennis,” said Gauff, as she referenced Alcaraz’s comeback during his semifinal at the Cincinnati Masters in August. “He was still smiling. I was like, if he can smile, he’s No. 1 in the world and he has all this pressure … then I can do it in situations where [I’m down].”

Gauff most recently received sweeping support for addressing a US Open chair umpire over the slow pace of play of her opponent during her first-round match. Gauff called out the umpire for the amount of time she allowed Laura Siegemund to take between serves without the player facing a penalty.

Gauff will play her third round singles match against Elise Mertens on September 1. And she will play her first round doubles match with her partner Jessica Pegula on Thursday night.

Photo by Victor Velter / Shutterstock

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