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How Coco Gauff Embodies the Biggest Story in Sports

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What perfect timing.

That thought flashed through my mind as I sat courtside at Arthur Ashe Stadium last week, watching Coco Gauff poleax the backhand passing shot that sealed the U.S. Open and her first Grand Slam title.

My thoughts were as much about the in-sync way Gauff struck that last ball as how the moment had lined up for this column.

Gauff — a sensation now at 19, much as Venus and Serena Williams were at the same age — stepped closer to her destiny. With a major championship in hand, she is ready to be a leader on the women’s tennis tour and one of the guardians of the new era of female empowerment in sports.

Her beginning provided a perfect ending for me. The Open was the last event I will cover as the Sports of The Times columnist. I’m moving to our National desk, where I’ll write feature stories about America’s wonder, complexity, trouble and promise.

How perfect that the U.S. Open helped lower the curtain, with a women’s sport providing the tournament’s apex moment: Gauff’s three-set win over Aryna Sabalenka overshadowed an anticlimactic men’s final in which Novak Djokovic took his 24th straight major title with a straight-sets win over Daniil Medvedev. For me, women have been the story, and not just at the U.S. Open.

I took on this column in the late summer of 2020. The worst days of the pandemic can seem a hazy memory now, stuck in the back of our collective consciousness, as painful moments often are. Much of the sports world was shuttered and scrambling to figure out ways to get back to competition amid the loss of so many lives. Who knew when the rampaging virus would be tamed?

At the same time, the ever-present inheritance of racism roiled the nation after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor — both at the hands of police — and the brutal killing of a jogger, Ahmaud Arbery, by white racists.

Remember the athletes — famous professionals and little-known amateurs in the United States and globally — and how they spoke out and led.

Who gets the most money, notice and hosannas in youth sports? By and large, boys.

Who runs most teams and controls most media that broadcast and write about the games? By and large, men.

Who runs the companies that provide the sponsorship money? Yeah, primarily men.

Change is coming. But change will take more time. Maybe a few generations more.

The decks remain stacked in favor of guys, but women continue their fight. When it comes to the games we play and love to watch, that’s the biggest story in sports right now.

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Sahred From Source link Sports

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