American tennis player Coco Gauff gave an on-court interview Monday after Day 1 of the the U.S. Open. She described her victory as “slow.”
Gauff could have been referring not only to her own comeback, but also to her opponent’s tendency to delay between serves.
The 19-year-old Gauff went viral for questioning the referee’s calls favoring her opponent, 35-year-old Laura Siegemund of Germany.
[Cancer shocker] Cereal for breakfast? [sponsored]
“She’s never ready when I’m serving,” Gauff said in a video broadcast by ESPN. “She went over to talk like four times, you only gave her a time violation once, how is this fair?”
Gauff continued, “No, you’re calling the score after the point is over, it’s not like we’re playing long points. You’re calling the score like six seconds after the point is over!.. She can’t [go back] every single point. And everybody in this crowd knows I’ve been quiet this whole match. I’m going a normal speed. Ask any ref here… That first set, it was like every point. I didn’t say nothing, but now it’s ridiculous.”
The official couldn’t be heard on the video, and the ESPN commentator was talking over everyone.
Gauff concluded, “I don’t care what she’s putting on her serves. On my serves she has to be ready.”
The crowd applauded in favor of Gauff.
“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,” Gauff said after the match. “Then obviously the crowd started to notice that she was taking long, so you would hear people in the crowd yelling, ‘Time!’”
Take a look —
— Ziggy (@Ziggy_Diver1) August 29, 2023
Gauff wound up dropping that game. Later, Siegemund was docked a point for delaying, which put Gauff up 5-1. That prompted Siegemund to argue her case to the official — “I can’t go to the towel anymore?” — and drew some boos.
Siegemund, whose faults drew applause and whose own back-and-forth with the official drew jeers, cried during her post-match news conference, saying the fans “had no respect for me.”
“I am very, very disappointed (by) the way the people treated me today,” said Siegemund, who has won U.S. Open titles in women’s doubles and mixed doubles. “This is something that I have to say hurts really bad. There is no doubt that I’m slow. … I should be quicker. But at the same time, it’s how I play.”
Added Siegemund: “They treated me like I was a bad person.”
When Gauff called her victory “slow,” she could also have been describing her gradual turnaround. Gauff won 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 to reach the second round at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows.
In other words, Gauff lost the first set of the match.
Plus, she’d lost her past two Grand Slam matches — including a first-round exit at Wimbledon last month — and did not want to leave quietly or quickly this time. With thousands of partisan fans getting rowdier by the moment, she converted her eighth break point in a 30-point, 25-plus-minute game to begin the second set.
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article.