Coco Gauff’s US Open Match Halted by Climate Change Protester Who Glued Feet to Ground

The incident put play on pause for nearly 50 minutes

<p>Sarah Stier/Getty </p> Coco Gauff

Sarah Stier/Getty

Coco Gauff

Coco Gauff’s semifinal US Open tennis match was interrupted due to a group of climate change protesters Thursday evening.

Gauff, 19, and Karolína Muchová were on the court when several individuals caused the game to come to a pause at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.

According to the U.S. Tennis Association, the protesters halted play for 49 minutes.

The Tennis Letter shared a video of a portion of the incident on X, formerly known as Twitter. In the clip, Gauff walked over to members of her team and asked, “Should I leave the court?”

She was instructed not to do so.

“They said they’re on the phone negotiating like this is a hostage situation,” she added as the individuals seemingly tried to understand what was going on inside of the stadium.

<p>Elsa/Getty</p> Protesters interrupt US Open tennis match between Coco Gauff and Karolina Muchova


Protesters interrupt US Open tennis match between Coco Gauff and Karolina Muchova

Both Gauff and Muchová, 27, were eventually allowed to leave the court during the prolonged interference. The Atlanta native was up 6-4, 1-0 when the group caused a scene at approximately 8:05 p.m. ET. Shortly thereafter, the players left the court.

Gauff was seen using the downtime to practice hitting a few tennis balls and snacking on fruit. Muchová made use of the break by consulting with a trainer.

“Following the first game of the second set in the Gauff-Muchova match, play was halted due to a protest conducted by four spectators,” the USTA said in a statement. “Three of the four protesters were escorted out of the stadium without further incident. The fourth protester affixed their bare feet to the floor of the seating bowl.”

<p>Sarah Stier/Getty </p> Protesters interrupt US Open tennis match between Coco Gauff and Karolina Muchova

Sarah Stier/Getty

Protesters interrupt US Open tennis match between Coco Gauff and Karolina Muchova

The organization continued, “Due to the nature of this action, NYPD and medical personnel were needed in order to safely remove this individual from the stadium. The four protesters were taken into NYPD custody."

The group of protesters were seen wearing different colored T-shirts that read “End Fossil Fuels.”

After the protesters were removed, an announcer joked with Gauff as she thanked the audience for their patience, adding that “99.99 percent of [the crowd] behaved themselves tonight.”

Gauff went on to defeat Muchová and advance to her first US Open Singles Final, making her the youngest American player to do so in New York since Serena Williams in 2001.

“Thank you guys so much … it means a lot to me, the final, a lot to celebrate but you know, the job is not done, so hopefully you guys come back for me on Saturday,” she added as the stadium echoed with applause.

During her post-match press conference, Gauff told reporters she supports the protesters' cause, but she would "prefer it not" happen during her match. She added that she was not "pissed at the protesters," but understood that the crowd was not happy because "it just interrupted entertainment."

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

<p>Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty</p> Coco Gauff

Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty

Coco Gauff

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Related: Coco Gauff Says She’s ‘Not Trying' to Follow in Serena Williams’ ‘Footsteps’: ‘She’s the G.O.A.T.’ (Exclusive)

Late last month, Gauff opened up to PEOPLE about her inspirations as an athlete.

“It’s still very shocking. I’m very shy,” she said during the interview, noting how it still feels like a dream to be considered a famous sports star."

"I remember I met these two girls recently and I gave them both hugs, and they both started to cry. But then I started to cry!” Gauff added of an encounter that helped her put her impact into perspective.

The No. 6-ranked player in the world has her sights set on a Grand Slam title.

“It would mean a lot to me,” Gauff told PEOPLE. “For me, the goal is to win. That’s the ultimate goal. Obviously, there's minor ones along the way, and I think the biggest one is trying to make sure I control the matches on my side of the court, and I think that will help me get to that ultimate goal.”

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