Two-time WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart talks inspiration from tennis star Coco Gauff, amplifying women’s sports

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(NEW YORK) — New York Liberty star and two-time WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart has had a stellar season, leading her team to the playoffs, and hailed this moment in sports as bigger than basketball and a catalyst for all women’s sports during an interview Wednesday morning.

Stewart joined Good Morning America on Wednesday after the Liberty came back to defeat the Connecticut Sun Tuesday evening, after being down at the half in Game 2 of the WNBA semifinals.

“The energy in Barclays has been just electric all season long and we knew that they were behind us the entire time,” she said. “We obviously went down Game 1 and knew we had to take care of business in Game 2.”

For her eighth year in the league, after a successful seven in Seattle, Stewart is back in her home state and has led the Liberty to the No. 2 seed this season, also becoming the first player in team history to win the league MVP, an honor with which she was awarded Tuesday night.

“Hearing all of that and being the first Liberty player to win MVP is an amazing honor and I’m lucky to be the first,” Stewart said, adding that the season gave her “goose bumps.”

“It’s one of the founding franchises here and [we’re] continuing to put the Liberty on the map and chase a championship, because they’ve never won one and that’s our goal,” she continued. “We want to get to that point where we can have the whole city behind us and celebrate women’s basketball and the WNBA in a different way than it has before.”

Remarking on the tight race for this year’s MVP title against Las Vegas Aces star A’ja Wilson and Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas, Stewart explained that she thinks “it says how incredible this league is and how amazing all of these women basketball players are.”

“They’ve had dominant seasons,” she said. “The fact that three of us can really try to uplift this league together and continue to be great, women’s sports are going places. We’ve known that for a long time, but now everybody else is seeing it. And we’re continuing to raise the bar.”

Stewart stunned Liberty and women’s basketball fans when she started the season off by setting a league record with 45 points in 30 minutes. She also notched three games with 40 points and 10 rebounds, and averaged a career high 23 points.

“Life has changed a lot from 2018 to 2023,” Stewart said of her progression and upward trajectory on the court over the past several years, citing support from “family” including “my wife Marta [and] my daughter Ruby.”

As for what the future holds, the former University of Connecticut Husky said she hopes to “[continue] to be great no matter what happens, no matter where I am, making sure that I show everyone how it is to be great and bring greatness around me.”

Stewart said she has held onto wise words from competitors in other arenas to motivate her in her game, most recently taking wisdom from 19-year-old tennis star Coco Gauff, who took home the U.S. Open women’s title for the first time earlier this month.

“The fact that people thought they were pouring water on her fire, but they were pouring gas … that’s what I felt,” Stewart said, referencing Gauff’s comments after her win (“To those who thought they were putting water on my fire, you were really adding gas to it”).

“It’s an amazing time for women’s sports,” she added. “We’re in a spot where we want to have positive support and with that comes negative … not everybody is going to be on my side, but I’m still going to shine bright.”

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