Sept. 2 (UPI) -- Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr helped build one of the most-competitive teams in NBA history, but he said he is impressed tennis star Cori "Coco" Gauff already has figured out the essence of competition at 15.
Kerr tweeted about Gauff after her third round loss to Naomi Osaka at the 2019 U.S. Open on Saturday in Forest Hills, N.Y. Gauff and Osaka delivered an emotional on-court interview after the match, complimenting each other on their achievements and sportsmanship.
"For me, the definition of an athlete is someone who on the court treats you like your worst enemy but off the court can be your best friend," Gauff told reporters. "I think that's what [Osaka] did [Saturday]."
Kerr used that quote in a tweet Sunday, praising the teen tennis sensation from Delray Beach, Fla.
"This is the essence of competition and she figured it out at 15? Unbelievable. I think I was 35 when it finally hit me," Kerr tweeted.
Gauff elevated herself to household-name status with a magical run at Wimbledon 2019. The youngest player to ever qualify for the Grand Slam's main draw defeated Venus Williams in the first round before falling to former world No. 1 Simona Halep in the fourth round.
Gauff was ranked No. 875 in the world at the end of 2018. She jumped from No. 313 to No. 141 after Wimbledon.
"For me I am just going to continue to learn," Gauff said. "I'm 15, I still have a lot to work on and a lot to improve but I think I learned a lot [Saturday]. [Osaka] is at the top of the game and I know what I need to do to get to that level and be a top 10 player."
Gauff said Osaka, 21, attacked the ball well and hit a lot of winners during the matchup. She said she needs to work on trusting her strokes more in order to hit more winners.
"I hope next year I'll be able to play on Ashe [Arthur Ashe Stadium court] again," Gauff said. "It was a great court and a great atmosphere out there. Maybe next time I'll come out on top."
Gauff said she is proud of the way she has handled all of the attention.
"I try my best to zone out everyone and just focus on me," Gauff said. "A lot of people forget that I'm new to this and I'm still learning and improving. A lot of people came in with a lot of expectations after Wimbledon ... I felt pressured to kind of just prove myself.
"Maybe three or four days before my first match, I think I realized I just need to have fun out there and whatever happens, happens. As long as I have fun, that's important for me."