Skip to Content

U.S. Open Semifinal Delayed By Climate Change Protestor Who Apparently Superglued His Feet To Stadium

A protester disrupts the Women's Singles Semifinal match between Coco Gauff of the United States and Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic on Day Eleven of the 2023 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 07, 2023 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.
Al Bello/Getty Images

FLUSHING, N.Y. — Early in the second set of the U.S. Open semifinal between Karolina Muchova and Coco Gauff, three people in the upper deck of Arthur Ashe Stadium began chanting in protest. (A press release circulated shortly after the incident said there were four protestors, but I only saw three.) Play was stopped; the players took some practice serves, walked around, talked to coaches, and eventually decamped for the locker room. For a while the crowd cheered "Kick them out!" In time, they got bored and began milling around and flooding the concessions.

Blue polo-clad event security failed to oust the protestors. Someone in a white shirt picked up one of the three protestors and set them down on the staircase, and the protestor walked away. The second protestor followed suit, seemingly without as much physical contact. But the third protestor wasn't budging. More time passed, and police from the NYPD Emergency Service Unit arrived. When I got closer to the area, someone from the fire department was saying that the protestor had superglued his feet to the floor. From what I could make out, that did indeed seem to be the case. There were roughly 20 cops on the scene. It took about 25 minutes to loosen the protestor's feet from the concrete. (Previous climate-change protests in tennis, like puzzle pieces and confetti, have proved much easier to clean up.) I couldn't get a clear angle on the removal process, but I noticed one of the responders was holding a bottle of some kind of solvent.

Eventually the protestor was handcuffed and marched out of the arena to widespread cheering. He hadn't put on any shoes. On his way out, a surprising number of attendees went out of their way to tell the protestor what they thought of his performance. "What a shame to the athletes," spat a lady in a navy blue polo shirt. Someone with a neon Bloomingdale's tote bag and a credential swung by to say something nasty and then stomped off. We descended the stairs out of the venue, and I followed a group of about 20 cops out onto the grounds. When I got close enough, I asked the protestor, whose shirt read "End Fossil Fuels," what group he was from. He said, "Extinction Rebellion." I asked him how they got his feet unstuck from the floor, and if the process hurt. No answers on those last two. After a couple tries, I got shooed away for good. Meanwhile, back inside the stadium, the match got a lot better after it resumed.

If you liked this blog, please share it! Your referrals help Defector reach new readers, and those new readers always get a few free blogs before encountering our paywall.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter