The first US Open women’s semifinal between Coco Gauff and Karolina Muchova was disrupted by a group of climate protesters who glued themselves to the floor of the Arthur Ashe Stadium on Thursday. The match was halted for more than 45 minutes as security personnel and medical professionals removed the protesters from the stands.
Protesters shouted about environmental issues
According to the ESPN broadcast, the protesters shouted about “environmental issues” and held signs that read “Climate Justice Now” and “Stop Fossil Fuels”. One of them managed to glue their bare feet to the floor, making it difficult to detach them without causing injury. The other two protesters were “quietly removed” by the security, according to the US Tennis Association chief executive Stacey Allaster.
The fans at the stadium booed the protesters and cheered when they were finally taken away by the police. Gauff and Muchova had left the court during the pause and returned after the incident was resolved.
Gauff and Muchova resumed play after the delay
The match between Gauff and Muchova was a highly anticipated one, as both players were aiming to reach their first Grand Slam final. Gauff, 19, had become the youngest US Open semifinalist since Maria Sharapova in 2005, while Muchova, 25, had upset world number one Ashleigh Barty in the quarterfinals.
The match was evenly poised when the disruption occurred, with Gauff leading 6-4, 3-3. After the delay, both players struggled to find their rhythm and made several unforced errors. Gauff eventually prevailed 6-4, 6-4 and advanced to the final, where she will face either Naomi Osaka or Simona Halep.
Climate change has been a hot topic at the US Open
The US Open has been affected by extreme weather conditions this year, as heat waves, wildfires and hurricanes have hit different parts of the country. Several players have complained about the high temperatures and poor air quality at the tournament, while some matches have been postponed or moved indoors due to rain or wind.
Climate change has also been a topic of discussion among some of the players, who have expressed their concerns and opinions on the issue. Osaka, for instance, has been wearing masks with messages such as “Stop Line 3” and “No More Coal” during her matches, referring to controversial pipeline and power plant projects in the US. She has also donated some of her prize money to relief efforts for Haiti, which was devastated by an earthquake last month.
Gauff, who is known for her activism on social justice issues, said she was not aware of the protesters’ motives until after the match. She said she respected their right to express themselves, but wished they had chosen a different time and place.
“I think everyone has a voice and can use it how they want to,” she said in her post-match interview. “But I think there’s a time and place for everything, and I don’t think that interrupting tennis matches is maybe the best way to go about it.”