HomeTop StoriesWomen's US Open semifinal delayed due to environmental protests

Women’s US Open semifinal delayed due to environmental protests

An environmental protest halted Thursday night’s US Open women’s semifinal between American Coco Gauff and Czech Karolína Muchová, one game into the second set.

As Gauff led 6-4 1-0, several people started shouting from the upper part of the Arthur Ashe Stadium, the largest tennis stadium in the world. The players eventually left the field and returned to the dressing room as the protest continued.

According to tournament officials, three protesters disrupted the game. Two of them quietly left when security arrived, but one of the protesters – who was seen on social media wearing a shirt that read “End Fossil Fuels” – glued his feet to the floor of the stadium. Police were eventually called in and helped remove the last protester.

US Open 2023 - Day 11
Members of the New York Police Department intervene to aid protesters during the women’s singles semifinal between Coco Gauff of the United States and Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic.

Getty Images

After a break of almost 50 minutes, the match was resumed. It was not immediately clear what allegations the protesters might face.

The protesters’ shirts bore the logo of Extinction Rebellion, a group protesting to demand action on climate change. During the protest, the group shared a story on social media about the ruling of men’s semifinalist Daniil Medvedev “Somebody’s Gonna Die” at this year’s tournament due to the extreme heat.

“At one tournament or another, it’s inevitable, with no significant change,” the group wrote.

The group’s New York City chapter shared a statement that read in part: “The climate and environmental crisis threatens everything on our planet, including sport. This action and actions like it are the response of a movement that has no recourse other than to engage in unconventional means of protest to draw mass attention to the greatest emergency of our time.”

It was the latest in a recent series of protests at sporting events – and tennis in particular – over the use of fossil fuels.

At Wimbledon in July, two matches were interrupted when environmentalists jumped from the stands of Court 18 and scattered orange confetti on the grass.

At a US Open tune-up tournament in Washington last month, about a dozen people were asked to leave the grounds after chanting and displaying signs protesting the use of fossil fuels.

Environmental protesters wearing “End Fossil Fuels” t-shirts delayed the match between American Coco Gauff and Czech Republic Karolina Muchová at the US Open in New York on Sept. 7, 2023.

KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

Gauff, 19, is the first American teenager to reach the US Open semifinals since Serena Williams in 2001. Muchová, 27, also played in her first US Open semifinal.

Another American, Madison Keys, would face Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka in the second semifinal of the night at the end of the Gauff-Muchová match.

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