The American teenager lost the first set against German qualifier Laura Siegemund before turning things around to win 3-6 6-2 6-4 after nearly three hours.
The 19-year-old is one of the favorites to win the women’s title at Flushing Meadows this year and her opening match was one of the hottest tickets in town.
Barack and Michelle Obama joined the likes of tennis great Billie Jean King, fashion designer Anna Wintour and US ski icon Lindsey Vonn in watching Gauff progress into the next round.
Many of the stars were in town to celebrate the 50th anniversary of equal pay at the US Open, with a ceremony taking place on court.
“I actually just met [the Obamas] right before I came in here,” Gauff told reporters after her win, according to the WTA.
“I’ve met Mrs. Obama before. They told me it was just her initially. Then Mr. Obama was there in the room, too.
“I haven’t soaked it in because I literally just walked in here. I think I’m going to never forget that moment for the rest of my life.”
Gauff initially appeared to struggle under the pressure of opening night at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, deservedly losing the first set against the world No. 121.
The American just couldn’t match the intensity from her 35-year-old opponent in the early exchanges but momentum quickly shifted in the second set.
Gauff began stamping her authority of the match and battled through to set up a tie against 16-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva in the next round.
“It was a tough match, I wasn’t playing my best tennis. Laura, she’s not an easy opponent. She fights to the end and that’s what she did today,” Gauff told reporters, after a fiery encounter where both players clashed with the umpire over the time each was taking between points.
“I was able to overcome a lot of adversity so I’m happy with how I managed to get through.”
Gauff is bidding for her maiden grand slam after bursting onto the scene as a 15-year-old.
Her best result at a major has so far been reaching the final of the French Open in 2022, but she’s enjoyed an impressive run of form heading into the US Open.
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