Coco Gauff’s big win at the 2023 US Open was a major career high for the 19-year-old tennis ingenue, who’s only at the cusp of a world-shaking rise to stardom. It was also a big moment for Barilla, the pasta company that’s inexplicably one of Gauff’s few professional sponsors.

Gauff is famously choosy with her sponsors, only partnering with a handful thus far. She endorses New Balance and Head for gear, Rolex for fancy watches, and UPS for, uh, sending packages, I guess.

That she also endorses Barilla, the world’s largest pasta company, is a bizarre fact not lost on several US Open spectators. Yes, you heard it hear first (or second, or third): Coco Gauff is in the pocket of big pasta.

New Balance makes sense and something like UPS can be explained by way of its many endorsement deals — UPS has ties with athletes in realms as disparate as pro golf to college football — but Barilla? The pasta company?

I mean, if being endorsed by a pasta company means free food, sign me up. It’s more just like… what’s the connection here?

Gauff’s inimitable red New Balance top even received a Barilla-themed update for the US Open, with the pasta company becoming only the second brand to place a logo atop Gauff’s get-up.

Barilla clearly believes in Gauff enough to pay up for prime placement, which is, like, yeah, cool. If anyone’s worth believing in, it’s Gauff. I suppose the fact that even pasta stans Coco is indicative of just how likable she is.

Given that Gauff is very particular about the brands she co-signs, there’s probably some personal connection here.

I suppose if I was offered a similar opportunity to partner with a grocery store brand that I myself frequently purchased, I’d be working with Lay’s and whatever company makes those fuji apples I love so well, Now that I think about it, sounds pretty sweet.

Barilla and Gauff have apparently been together long enough for the pasta company to describe the tennis star as a “longstanding partner” so this is, apparently, not a new development beyond Gauff’s wardrobe update.

In that case, why are we still waiting on pasta-themed New Balance shoes? They already share a tennis jersey, how ’bout a red sneaker (for pasta sauce) with a yellow-y lace (for pasta)?

Not to make light of Coco Gauff’s big win, mind you. It was hard-fought and well-deserved and will surely go down as one of the great moments in contemporary pasta history. Er, tennis history. Hell, why not both.

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