US Open 2023: Coco Gauff says she is not 'upset' at protestors for interrupting semi-final

Protestors stand up wearing 'end fossil fuels' T-shirts during the US Open women's semi-final
The protesters were wearing T-shirts with the logo of the Extinction Rebellion protest group and bearing the slogan 'End Fossil Fuels'

US Open 2023

Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 28 August-10 September

Coverage: Daily live text and radio commentaries across the BBC Sport website, app, BBC Radio 5 Live and 5 Sports Extra

US Open finalist Coco Gauff says she is not "upset" at climate protestors for interrupting her semi-final with Karolina Muchova.

Four people stood chanting for the end of fossil fuels in the Arthur Ashe Stadium upper tier before the second game of the second set in New York.

The contest was delayed for 49 minutes at Flushing Meadows, with one gluing their feet to the floor.

American Gauff, 19, said protests like these are "history-defining" moments.

Security escorted three out but it took longer to remove the fourth.

"Would I prefer it not to happen in my match? 100% yeah," said Gauff. "I'm not going to sit here and lie. But it is what it is.

"I always speak about preaching, you know, preaching about what you feel and what you believe in.

"It was done in a peaceful way, so I can't get mad at it. Obviously, I didn't want it to happen when I'm winning 6-4 1-0 and I wanted to keep the momentum going.

"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."

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) said all four were in New York Police Department (NYPD) custody.

"The fourth protester affixed their bare feet to the floor of the seating bowl," the USTA said in a statement.

"Due to the nature of this action, NYPD and medical personnel were needed in order to safely remove this individual from the stadium."

Extinction Rebellion NYC wrote on X (formerly Twitter): "Tennis as usual won't be possible on a planet in which humanity fails to keep global warming below 1.5C.

"If activists don't disrupt these games, the climate will."

Play stopped at 20:05 local time in New York when sixth seed Gauff was leading 6-4 1-0.

While the players waited, Czech 10th seed Muchova received some medical treatment and Gauff practised serves.

Gauff, who went on to win 6-4 7-5 after a thrilling end to the match, said she had predicted there might be an interruption at Flushing Meadows this weekend.

"I had a feeling it was going to happen this tournament," she said. "It happened at the French Open, it happened at Wimbledon, so just following the trend, it was definitely going to happen here.

"I was just hoping it wasn't my match, and honestly, I thought we made it through."

Members of the crowd voiced their frustration at the stoppage and directed chants of "kick them out" towards the protesters.

Eventually, the players were instructed to leave the court and head to the locker room as security staff and NYPD officers tried to resolve the situation.

"Two of them were removed, they quietly left without further protest," US Open tournament director Stacey Allaster told ESPN.

"When security got there, they found that one of the protesters had physically glued themselves in their bare feet to the cement floor."

The protesters were wearing T-shirts with the logo of the Extinction Rebellion protest group and bearing the slogan 'End Fossil Fuels'.

Earlier this year, Just Stop Oil protesters interrupted play at Wimbledon by throwing orange-coloured confetti and jigsaw pieces on to court 18.

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