Former NFL coach Tony Dungy has criticized ESPN for failing to acknowledge Coco Gauff's prayer after her victory at the 2023 US Open, despite her previous public expressions of her Christian faith.
Tony Dungy had a 13-season tenure as head coach, first for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and later the Indianapolis Colts. He guided the Colts to victory in Super Bowl XLI against the Chicago Bears. That was a particularly historic achievement as Dungy was the first African-American head coach to claim a Super Bowl victory.
ESPN recently posted a video on Twitter, in which Gauff could be seen praying following her win over Aryna Sabalenka in the US Open final. The caption of the video read:
"@CocoGauff took a moment to soak it all in after winning her first Grand Slam title."
However, the caption did not sit right with Dungy. In his tweet, he said that Gauff wasn't absorbing the moment and was instead engaged in prayer.
"I hate to break this to you SportsCenter but Coco Gauff was not “soaking it all in” at this moment. She was praying. She has been very open about her Christian faith in the past. It seems pretty obvious what she is doing here," Dungy tweeted.
Coco Gauff, 19, secured her maiden Grand Slam title on Saturday by defeating Aryna Sabalenka 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the US Open women's singles final. With the win, Gauff became only the third American teenager to win the New York Major, following in the footsteps of Tracy Austin (1979) and Serena Williams (1999).
Coco Gauff openly discussed her Christian faith following her victory at the Cincinnati Open
Last month, Coco Gauff secured her fifth singles title by defeating Karolína Muchova in straight sets in the final of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. In her post-match interview, she expressed her happiness and thanked Jesus Christ for guiding and protecting her through challenging times.
"It's unbelievable, I'm just happy to be here in this moment," she said. "I'd like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It's been a lot of nights alone crying trying to figure it out. And you know, I still have a lot to figure out. But you know, I thank Him for covering me."
After her most recent victory, Gauff has now claimed six WTA Tour singles titles and eight doubles titles.