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USTA CEO says Pegula, Gauff have ‘legitimate shot’ at winning US Open

U.S. Tennis Association executive director and CEO Lew Sherr says the energy from Serena Williams’ exit last week has transitioned into ‘incredible excitement’ for new legacies.

After Serena Williams aced her career and played her final game, set and match at the U.S. Open last week, the U.S. Tennis Association [USTA] executive director and CEO discussed the "incredible excitement" surrounding the new faces of the sport.

"We're so fortunate in that Serena gave our fans an opportunity to truly celebrate her impact on the sport on the largest stage we have in our game here at the U.S. Open," USTA’s Lew Sherr told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo in an interview on "Mornings with Maria" Tuesday.

"You felt that energy last week, but as we've transitioned from last week into this week," Sherr continued, "you're seeing incredible excitement right now around Coco Gauff, Frances Tiafoe, who just defeated Rafa Nadal last night. It's been an extraordinary event."

Williams’ decades-long career has left a lasting impact on the sport, with the U.S. Open seeing record attendance, ratings and merch sales this year, as well as soaring USTA participation numbers, according to the CEO.

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Heading into finals week at the U.S. Open, conversations are moving towards Coco Gauff’s "tremendous trajectory," Sherr noted, and the two other Americans remaining in the tournament, Jessica Pergula and Frances Tiafoe.

Serena Williams’ “legacy” has left “incredible excitement” surrounding the new faces of tennis, USTA executive director and CEO Lew Sherr said on “Mornings with Maria” Tuesday, September 6, 2022. (Getty Images)

"We've got three Americans still playing in the quarter-finals," Sherr explained, "Jessica Pegula, a great American player who has really developed over the past few years, now has a legitimate shot to win this event along with Coco."

"There's some great, great tennis still left to be had in this year's tournament," the CEO added. "And one of the things we're seeing is maybe a little more parity or equity than we've seen in previous years."

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Much like the public excitement seen in Venus and Serena’s early days, USTA participation has seen 5 million new players added from 2019 to 2021, and 2.3 million junior players in the same time frame.

"And if you want to talk about Serena's legacy, Venus' legacy, that growth is coming disproportionately from youth," Sherr said, "But it's also people of color: Hispanic, Black, African-American populations are outpacing the growth that we're seeing in the sport."

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Sherr emphasized USTA’s mission as an organization to help the game of tennis grow.

"We do that because we believe that tennis is an incredible way to improve the quality of people's lives, being healthy and active," Sherr said. "And if enough players are playing, that has great benefits to our country."

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