"Girls, put your coats on! It's freezing!"
They obliged, but unlike most teenagers, these two had just won their first-round doubles match against Karolina Muchova and Jil Teichmann, 6-3, 6-2 at the Australian Open -- over 10,000 miles away from their homes in the United States.
Hordes of fans squeezed onto tiny Court 10 to see them, and countless more around the world used the hashtag #McCoco as they followed along. As the Gauff and McNally were being told to put coats on, they were being whisked away by security guards as dozens of admirers tried to catch their attention for a selfie opportunity.
So while their experience may be atypical, it has become their new normal. Gauff, 15, and McNally, 18, have taken the tennis world by storm over the past eight months in singles and doubles play. Gauff has become a household name, thanks to her fearless fourth-round showing at Wimbledon and third-round result at the US Open. McNally, while perhaps less known, impressed by taking Serena Williams to three sets in Queens in the second round and knocking off home favorite Sam Stosur earlier this week before being eliminated in the second round.
Together, they won titles in Washington and Luxembourg in 2019, as well as making it to the round of 16 in New York.
While doubles is frequently overlooked at majors, #McCoco matches have become must-see events. Even their joint practice sessions at the US Open drew large crowds. Despite being moved to a different court and after several hours of rain delays on Thursday, the fans managed to find them and show their support. "Here we go, McCoco, here we go!" chants were heard throughout the straight-set victory, in addition to the encouraging words of their parents and coaches.
Gauff's parents, Corey and Candi, have become recognizable figures at tennis tournaments in their own right, and were bombarded with photo requests after the match. Candi is thrilled for the support her daughter is receiving in Melbourne, but she's not exactly shocked by it.
"For some reason people really seem to gravitate toward her," she told ESPN.com after the match. "She's a genuine and authentic person, and I think that comes across to those watching her, and they respond to that. So am I surprised that she has this kind of support here in Australia? Yes and no, but we're grateful for it. Coco likes the support, and the rowdy, passionate energy, and she really steps up in those big moments because of it."
Gauff credited the fans during her second-round singles win against Sorana Cirstea for helping her come back from a 3-0 deficit in the third set on Wednesday, and several of the most vocal were back in the crowd on Thursday. She will likely need such support for her highly anticipated third-round clash against Naomi Osaka on Friday, but Gauff didn't appear concerned with that after securing the doubles win with McNally.
Instead, the two did a short, TikTok-worthy dance, then posed for pictures and signed autographs for a seemingly never-ending batch of fans who lined the fence. If they were tired of the attention, they certainly didn't show it. Gauff and McNally seemed to enjoy just being out on the court together, and were appreciative of the moment and one another.
"Caty and I have a close relationship," Gauff said earlier in the week. "Basically we're best friends on and off the court. We have a lot of fun.
"I'm excited for both of our futures because we get along so well and we are a good doubles team, good singles players. I'm really excited just to see what we can do."