‘Coco Gauff is the best athlete ever in women’s tennis over Steffi Graf’, claims top analyst

Ewan West
Coco Gauff pleased
Coco Gauff celebrates US Open victory

Tennis analyst Mark Petchey has claimed that Coco Gauff is “the best women’s athlete ever to play tennis” and places legend Steffi Graf second in this category. 

Petchey, a former coach of Andy Murray, described Gauff as “an absolute gem for the women’s tour” and suggested she could be even more dangerous now she has won her maiden major.

Gauff defeated Aryna Sabalenka, who has since become world No 1, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the final of the 2023 US Open earlier this month to claim her first Grand Slam title.

The 19-year-old is at a career-high ranking of world No 3 following a superb run – winning 18 of her last 19 matches and three of her last four tournaments.

Following an opening round defeat to Sofia Kenin at Wimbledon, Gauff won the Washington title, reached the Montreal quarter-finals and secured her first WTA 1000 event in Cincinnati, before her New York triumph.

Speaking on an episode of the Tennis Channel Inside-In podcast, Petchey discussed Gauff’s imminent return to action at the China Open in Beijing.

“That is gonna be fascinating to see her come back and I just don’t think it’s gonna be a problem, I’ve gotta be honest. One of the great sporting global stories of the year. The fact, the way that she went through the summer. It just had everything that you would want about a blockbuster story,” assessed the Brit.

“And she just seems so incredibly mature for 19 that I don’t have any issues in my mind that she’s gonna come back. She’s found the solution of the way that she needs to play. It’s gonna be up to all the other players on the tour to kinda counter the way that she’s moving the ball around, particularly on that forehand side.

“I don’t know and I don’t think we’ve seen a better athlete in women’s tennis. And that’s something else that’s gonna be a problem for a lot of the players out there. And plus, the pressure’s off. She’s done it, she’s won a major.

“She’s gonna be able to play with a certain amount of freedom that she wasn’t able to play with before as she was trying to seek that elusive goal. Sky is the limit. She’s an absolute gem for the women’s tour and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a few more trophies in the bag before she hangs up her rackets for the season.”

The former ATP player explained why he feels the young American is the best athlete in the history of the women’s game, while giving mention to 22-time Slam winner Graf.

“I think she’s the best women’s athlete ever to play tennis. You cannot tell me that tennis – even when Steffi [Graf] was around, who I think in my mind was the second greatest female women’s tennis player athlete of all time – you can’t tell me that the sport was played at the same speed back then than it is now,” continued Petchey.

“The sport moves on and I don’t think that we should always try and compare the current generation of players with ghosts, because we can’t do it. They were phenomenal in their era. I think Steffi was the best in her era.

“I personally think that Coco Gauff – looking at her right now with the speed that the game is being played at – is the best female women’s tennis athlete that we have ever seen.”

Gauff will face world No 21 Ekaterina Alexandrova in the opening round of the WTA 1000 tournament in Beijing on Sunday.

READ MORE: Aryna Sabalenka and Coco Gauff miss out on China Open byes