19-year-old tennis star Coco Gauff is one of the sport’s most promising talents; drawing support from the likes of former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama and cemented icon Venus Williams. On day one of the U.S. Open, the sixth-seeded Gauff seemed determined to make up for her last two early Grand Slam exits as she faced off against Laura Siegemund of Germany.
Though it was the first match for the budding tennis champion of this year’s Open, it would prove to be a heated battle.
According to NBC News, during the third set, Gauff approached official Marijana Veljovic about how slowly Siegemund was returning her serves. “She’s never ready when I’m serving. … How is this fair?” Gauff told Veljovic. “I’m going a normal speed. Ask any ref here. … I’ve been quiet the whole match. … Now it’s ridiculous. I don’t care what she’s doing on her serve, but (on) my serve, she has to be ready.”
Before the exchange, Siegemund had already begun hearing dissent from the crowd, who had taken to applauding her faults and vocally critiquing her style of play. The 35-year-old German athlete went on to say that she felt the fans had “no respect for me” and was in tears during her post-match conference.
However, the moment was not dimmed for Gauff who went on to win the match 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 to reach the second round of the U.S. Open.
“I was really patient the whole match. She was going over the time since the first set. I never said anything. I would look at the umpire, and she didn’t do anything,” said Gauff about the incident. “Then obviously the crowd started to notice that she was taking long, so you would hear people in the crowd yelling, ‘Time!’”
The 19-year-old Florida native has been on a run of late as she defeated No.1-ranked Iga Swiatek and took home the WTA 1000 title at the 2023 Cincinnati Masters earlier this month.