Coco Gauff speaks out after US Open semi-final halted by protestor who glued feet to floor

Coco Gauff’s US Open semi-final was delayed by 50 minutes due environmental protestors (Picture: Getty)

Coco Gauff’s U.S. Open semi-final victory over Karolina Muchova was delayed by almost an hour by four environmental activists, one of whom glued his bare feet to the concrete floor of the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Gauff was leading 1-0 in the second set when play was halted but ultimately overcame the sideshow to record a convincing 6-4, 7-5 victory.

‘I always speak about preaching about what you feel and what you believe in,’ said the 19-year-old who is now closing in on what would be landmark first Grand Slam triumph.

‘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.

‘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.’

Security guards and, later, more than a half-dozen police officers went over to confront the protesters, who were wearing shirts that read, ‘End Fossil Fuels.’ The U.S. Tennis Association said three of the protesters were escorted out of the stadium without further incident, but it took longer to remove the person who stuck his feet to the ground.

The USTA added that NYPD and medical personnel were needed in order to safely remove that person. All four activists were taken into police custody.

Muchova said that, initially, she ‘thought it was, like, fans screaming, cheering.’

Gauff sat on her sideline bench for a bit during the break in the match, eating fruit out of a plastic container, before then getting some tennis balls and hitting a few practice serves. Muchova was briefly visited by a trainer during the interruption.

‘We didn’t know how long it was going to take. We were talking to the supervisor and security,’ said Gauff. ‘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.’

Coco Gauff of the United States celebrates her victory against Karolina Muchova (Picture: Getty)

Eventually, both players headed toward the locker room as the delay continued. Gauff sat on a treadmill, a towel draped over her lap, while chatting with members of her team.

‘I just wanted to get off the court and then keep myself little warmed up and not just to stand there,’ Muchova added.

It is the latest in a recent series of protests at sporting events — and tennis, in particular — related to the use of fossil fuels.

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‘Throughout history, moments like this are definitely defining moments. I believe, you know, in climate change. I don’t really know exactly what … they were protesting. I know it was about the environment. I 100% believe in that. I think there are things we can do better,’ Gauff said at her post-match news conference.

‘Would I prefer it not happening in my match — 100%, yeah,’ she said. ‘I’m not going to sit here and lie.’

The other women’s semi-final, between Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and Madison Keys of the United States, began shortly after Gauff’s victory finished. It ended at nearly 1 a.m., with Sabalenka winning 0-6, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (10-5) to reach her second Grand Slam final.

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