- American Coco Gauff beat China’s Zhang Shuai 7-5, 7-5 in the fourth round of the 2022 US Open.
- After hitting a crucial backhand winner, the 18-year-old celebrated with an emphatic hand gesture.
- She then cracked up trying to explain to an “old” reporter that she was emulating a hip-hop duo’s signature move.
A 53-year-old sports journalist doesn’t know who City Girls are?
Let Coco talk to ’em.
During the press conference following Coco Gauff’s 7-5, 7-5 victory over China’s Zhang Shuai in the fourth round of the 2022 US Open, a reporter for The New York Times asked the 18-year-old American superstar about her increased expressiveness on the court.
He noted Gauff’s finger wag à la NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo. Then, he pantomimed a gesture she used to celebrate her impressive backhand winner shown below, adding: “I don’t know what you want to call it.”
“That was supposed to be like a ‘Period,'” Gauff explained.
“Like, City Girls, Period,” she added with a smile, pulling her hand across her neck to show him the proper form.
City Girls — a Miami hip-hop duo featuring artists Yung Miami and JT — popularized the aforementioned gesture. Paired with the word “Period,” it’s a synonym for “end of story” or “full stop.”
—Erykah the Alien Superstar (@e_ryzzel) September 4, 2022
When the journalist still didn’t appear to understand, later explaining that he’s “an old guy,” Gauff laughed into the microphone.
“City Girls! It’s a City Girl summer! Period,” she said, once again completing the gesture from the dais. “That’s what it is.”
“JT, Yung Miami,” she added in hilarious desperation. “You don’t know?!”
“I’m 53 years old, Coco,” the reporter replied, eliciting laughter all around the room.
“It’s like period,” she tried one more time as she laughed. “You see, I got my long nails? It’s supposed to be like that.”
Later, when folks online mistook the expression for a throat slash, Gauff clarified on Twitter that she “had a city girls song stuck in my head the whole match” as she played Zhang and “was saying PERIODT” to herself throughout.
“It wasn’t meant to come off any other way,” Gauff wrote.
Fellow pro Christopher Eubanks asked which song she had on internal repeat, and the Florida native revealed it was one of City Girls’ most popular singles: “Act Up.”
Later in the press conference, Gauff told that same journalist from The New York Times that her increased vigor on the court — including the Mutombo finger wag and the “Period” gesture — comes from her “feeding off the crowd.”
“I’m feeding off the momentum a lot,” she added. “I enjoy it. I think New York is bringing out a side of me that I haven’t had since I was 15, so it’s nice.”
She’ll look to carry that energy into her match at Arthur Ashe Stadium Tuesday night, where she’ll take on red-hot World No. 17 Caroline Garcia with a trip to her first-ever US Open semifinal on the line.