American tennis sensation Coco Gauff remained undeterred by a disturbance caused by climate protesters during her semifinal showdown against Czech Republic’s 10th seed, Karolina Muchova.
The highly anticipated match was marred by a 49-minute delay due to the actions of four environmental activists who infiltrated the Arthur Ashe Stadium stands on Thursday night.
Officials struggled to remove one of the protesters who had adhered their bare feet to the concrete floor of the arena. Eventually, all four protesters were apprehended by law enforcement.
When the match resumed, the sixth-seeded Coco Gauff exhibited remarkable composure, clinching a hard-fought second set to secure her place in the second Grand Slam final of her burgeoning career, ultimately winning 6-4, 7-5. In her post-match interview, the 19-year-old from Florida expressed her understanding of the protest, stating, “I always speak about preaching what you feel and what you believe in. It was done in a peaceful way, so I can’t get too mad at it.”
She also added, “Would I prefer it not happening in my match – 100 percent, yeah. I’m not going to sit here and lie.”
The demonstrators, affiliated with the Extinction Rebellion group, donned shirts emblazoned with the slogan “End Fossil Fuels.” According to the US Tennis Association, three of the protesters were promptly escorted out of the stadium without further incident. However, the individual who had affixed their feet to the ground required the involvement of both police and medical personnel for safe removal. All four activists were subsequently taken into police custody.
One of the protesters, who identified himself as Ian, emphasized that their intentions were not to harm the athletes but to draw attention to the environmental issues linked to global warming. He remarked, “We are not trying to harm the athletes in any way. 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.”
This episode adds to a recent string of protests at sporting events, particularly within the realm of tennis, centered around the use of fossil fuels. Earlier in July at Wimbledon, two matches were disrupted when environmental activists descended from the stands at Court 18, showering the grass with orange confetti. In a similar vein, a US Open tune-up tournament in Washington last month witnessed around a dozen individuals being asked to vacate the premises for their vocal protests and displays condemning the use of fossil fuels.
Meanwhile, the other women’s semifinal clash, featuring Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and Madison Keys of the United States, commenced shortly after Gauff’s victorious encounter. Sabalenka emerged victorious with a stunning 0-6, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (10-5) comeback, securing her spot in her second Grand Slam final.
Coco Gauff and Aryna Sabalenka are now slated to face off in the championship match at Ashe on Saturday, promising a thrilling showdown on and off the court.