During an on-court interview, the Florida native joyfully waved to Osaka, who was watching from the “president’s box” at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City. Gauff had just defeated the Czech Republic’s Karolína Muchová 6-4, 7-5.
“I did not notice she was sitting here until now,” Gauff told the interviewer before addressing Osaka directly.
“Thanks for coming. I mean, Naomi, I remember the moment we had on this court — I don’t even remember — like, three years ago. And it meant a lot to me,” she said. “I’m so excited to have you back on tour and hopefully I get to meet your daughter. … Thank you so much for coming, and hi to your mom, too.”
Osaka, who could be seen smiling in the crowd, has been singing Gauff’s praises recently.
The four-time Grand Slam singles champion told ESPN on Wednesday that Gauff “seems like such a good person,” and that she hopes her newborn daughter will one day look up to Gauff “as a role model.”
Osaka gave birth to a baby girl in July after stepping away from tennis last year. She has said that she plans to return to the sport to compete at the 2024 Australian Open in January.
Osaka and Gauff memorably shared a heartwarming moment at the 2019 U.S. Open. Osaka had defeated Gauff in the third round of the tournament but invited the then-15-year-old to join her in a post-match interview.
Gauff is set to play Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in the U.S. Open final on Saturday following a particularly eventful Thursday.
The semifinal between Gauff and Muchová was disrupted when climate protesters in the stands began chanting, “End fossil fuels.” One protester glued his bare feet to the floor.
The demonstration, which drew loud boos from the crowd, caused the match to be delayed for approximately 50 minutes.
Gauff later said that she believed in climate change “100 percent,” and that she wasn’t “pissed” at the demonstrators — though she wished the protest hadn’t happened during her match.
“But hey, if that’s what they felt that they needed to do to get their voices heard, I can’t really get upset at it,” she said.