American tennis star Coco Gauff saw her US Open semi-final victory over Karolina Muchova delayed after environmental activists disrupted play. The game at the Arthur Ashe Stadium was halted for 50 minutes with one protester gluing himself to the floor.
The game saw Gauff and her Czech world No 10 opponent Muchova battle for a place in the finals of the Flushing Meadows tournament. The 19-year-old world No 6 is hoping to improve on last year’s performance which saw her knocked out in the quarterfinals after suffering defeat to Caroline Garcia.
Gauff put in a strong display to claim the first set 6-4 but saw her match disrupted by protests from the stands. Three spectators wearing ‘End Fossil Fuels’ shirts could be heard shouting which prompted the stadium’s security team to intervene.
Both players remained on the court but left once the protesters refused to leave, with one glueing his bare feet to the concrete floor. Over a half-dozen police officers confronted the protesters and were escorted out after 50 minutes.
Following the match, which saw Gauff win in straight sets 6-4, 7-5, one of the protesters, who identified himself as Ian, spoke to The Associated Press.
“We are not trying to harm the athletes in any way,” the protester said claiming that the US Open has “sponsorship deals with corporations whose policies are contributing to global warming.”
The protester continued: “We have nothing against the sport. But we are really trying to draw attention to an issue here that there will be no tennis left for anybody in the world to enjoy.”
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After progressing to the US Open final, where she will face Aryna Sabalenka tomorrow, Gauff expressed her support for the protest. “I always speak about preaching about what you feel and what you believe in,” she said.
“It was done in a peaceful way, so I can’t get too mad at it. Obviously I don’t want it to happen when I’m winning up 6-4, 1-0, and I wanted the momentum to keep going,” said Gauff, a 19-year-old from Florida. “But hey, if that’s what they felt they needed to do to get their voices heard, I can’t really get upset at it.”
“We didn’t know how long it was going to take,” Gauff added. “We were talking to the supervisor and security. You know, they (said) it could be as quick as five minutes or as long as an hour. It was tough to figure out if we stay warm or conserve energy.”
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