Coco Gauff expressed understanding towards the climate protestors who caused a 45-minute delay during her US Open semifinal against Karolína Muchová on Thursday. She stated that she couldn’t get too upset with their actions.
Gauff, who went on to win the match 6-4 7-5 and reach her second grand slam final, was leading at the start of the second set when the disruption took place.
The US Open issued a statement regarding a fan incident that occurred on Arthur Ashe Stadium. According to the statement, an attendee became attached to the floor, and as a result, medical professionals, NYPD, and security personnel were required to address the situation and remove the fan from the stands.
The individual who was vocalizing concerns about “environmental issues,” as reported by ESPN, was escorted out while the crowd in the stadium cheered.
According to a statement from the US Tennis Association, three of the four protesters were escorted out of the stadium without any further issues.
“I consider moments like this to be defining moments throughout history,” Gauff later expressed to reporters. “I strongly support the issue of climate change, although I am unsure of the specifics of the protest. I am fully committed to protecting the environment.”
“I believe there are areas in which we can improve. I am aware that tournaments are taking steps to improve their impact on the environment. Would I rather not have this issue during my matches? Absolutely. I will not deny that. However, I accept the situation as it is.”
During the delay, both Gauff and Muchová exited the court as the protestors were removed from the stadium.
Environmental activists also caused interruptions during the previous French Open and at Wimbledon earlier this year. They scattered orange confetti and jigsaw puzzle pieces on the grass court.
“I had a sense that it would occur during this tournament,” Gauff stated. “It occurred at the French Open and at Wimbledon, so based on that pattern, it was bound to happen here as well.”
She stated, “I was not angry with the protesters. I understand that the stadium was affected because it disrupted the entertainment. I always encourage speaking about one’s beliefs and feelings. The protest was conducted peacefully, so I cannot be too upset about it.”
“I would prefer for this situation to not occur while I am leading 6-4 1-0 and I wanted to maintain the momentum. However, if that is what they felt was necessary to express themselves, I cannot be too upset about it.”
Gauff, the youngest woman to reach the US Open final since Serena Williams in 1999, will next face Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka as she bids to win her first grand slam title.
This report was contributed to by Jenny Stevens from CNN.