From an outsider's point of view, tennis looks as brutal as a sport can get. But every now and then there are some endearing moments that reveal the emotional side of the players.
It is intriguing to know that a sport, in spite of demanding so much from the players especially on the mental front, could also be so heart-warming once the match ends. It requires character and mental discipline to respect the opponent and to appreciate the effort they have put in their game, and players who do that deserve special praise.
When 15-year-old American Coco Gauff entered the US Open with a wild card, the expectations went through the roof and the fans started to cheer for her right from the first round. The hype surrounding her was due to the successful tournament she had in Wimbledon where she upset Venus Williams in the first round and caught the attention of tennis enthusiasts all over the world. Her dream run continued all the way to the fourth round where she lost to the eventual champion Simona Halep.
Gauff also reached the third round at Flushing Meadows, where her opponent was the defending champion Naomi Osaka. After a sublime performance at the Australian Open earlier this year, Osaka had succumbed to injuries and lost her way, which suggested this was a winnable match for Gauff.
It was a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium that witness two future stars of women's tennis battling it out against each other.
Maybe it was due to the electrifying atmosphere or the brilliant performance of Osaka, but Gauff couldn't find her top gear as she lost 3-6, 0-6. While walking towards the net for the handshake, Osaka understood what Gauff was going through as she was booed by the same crowd a year ago when she defeated Serena Williams amidst some drama.
After the hug at the net, Osaka won every heart in the stadium as she requested Gauff to come and speak along with her in the on-court interview. That kind of gesture rarely happens in the sport. It might not be significant from the perspective of the draw or from the tournament, but it was truly endearing to see Osaka inviting Gauff to speak to the crowd.
Osaka and Gauff proved that tennis can go beyond titles and prize money; it can also be about sharing good vibes with each other. And such composure and maturity at an early age are what make Osaka a true champion.
These two players could play many battles in the future, but this one will definitely be one of the most precious memories for the fans. It reaffirms the fact that tennis is about displaying utmost respect and dignity towards your opponent, irrespective of the result.
Watch the moment here: