To put things into perspective, Gauff’s $3 million prize money is on par with the rewards received by top-tier players in the tournament.Coco Gauff found herself compared to Serena Williams before she was even a teenager, and just as companies once did with the GOAT, a long list of brands has followed her development as a tennis and marketing star with great interest. They watched as the American prodigy reached the top of the world junior rankings at 14, and as she won her first pro tournament title a year later. They applauded her stirring first-round victory over Venus Williams at Wimbledon in 2019, and this summer, they marveled at her triumphs at the WTA Tour’s Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati events.
All the while, her representatives at talent agency Team8 and her parents—father Corey, who coached her, and mother Candi, who homeschooled her—have preached patience. Turning down numerous commercial and media opportunities, they cut down on the distractions so Gauff could focus on her tennis, develop as a person and avoid the burnout that has torched past phenoms. That philosophy has also kept her sponsor portfolio relatively small so they could strike at just the right moment—after a breakthrough victory.
With a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over new world No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka in Saturday’s U.S. Open women’s singles final, the 19-year-old Gauff’s moment has arrived.
Her first Grand Slam title—after she fell one match short at the 2022 French Open—comes with a $3 million winner’s check, pushing her prize money to $5.6 million this year and $11.1 million across her five-year pro career. Gauff has also made an estimated $12 million from endorsements, appearance fees and other business endeavors over the last 12 months (before taxes and agents’ fees). But while she already comes in at No. 7 on Forbes’ list of the highest-paid tennis players, her earnings will surely reach a new level in the very near future.
“If you’re able to win a Grand Slam, it certainly takes you from, let’s say, a low-A endorser to something that is A-plus or bigger,” Joe Favorito, a veteran marketing consultant and former executive with the WTA Tour and the U.S. Tennis Association, told Forbes last month.
Consider the case of Britain’s Emma Raducanu, who set off a marketing bonanza when she won the 2021 U.S. Open at age 18. That flood of endorsement deals, including Dior, HSBC and Porsche, has her earning an estimated $15 million off the court this year—an impressive haul for a player whose major moment came only after she fought her way out of the qualifying draw as a relative unknown. Gauff, by contrast, entered this U.S. Open ranked No. 6 in singles and will ascend to No. 3 on Monday; she will also be tied for No. 1 in the WTA’s new doubles rankings.