Coco Gauff didn’t have time for any overlooked time violations in her match against Laura Siegemund on Day 1 of the U.S. Open on Monday.
The sixth-seeded tennis star approached chair umpire Marijana Veljovic in the third set to express frustration that she believed Veljovic wasn’t enforcing time violation rules for Siegemund’s pace of play. Gauff pointed out that the German player was taking too much time to get ready to play between points.
“She’s never ready when I’m serving, she went over the clock like four times, you gave her a time violation once, how is this fair?” she said to Veljovic.
“I’m going a normal speed,” Gauff later continued after a brief back-and-forth with Veljovic. “Ask any ref here, I go a medium-paced speed.”
She added, “I don’t care what she’s doing on her serve, but on my serve she has to be ready.”
The crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City loudly cheered in support of the 19-year-old Florida native.
Gauff ultimately defeated Siegemund, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, to advance to the second round.
The 19-year-old seemingly made a cheeky dig at Monday night’s pace of play during an on-court interview after the match.
When an interviewer asked her to describe what it was like to play the match, Gauff replied: “Slow...”
The crowd then broke out into laughter as Gauff smiled and turned away from the mic. The tennis star then complimented her opponent, saying Siegemund was “not an essay opponent” who “fights to the end.”
During a press conference later that night, Siegemund said that she thought the match was “great tennis,” but that she was disappointed in the crowd at Arthur Ashe, who applauded her faults. The 35-year-old also engaged in a back-and-forth with the umpire at one point during the match.
“They had no respect for the player that I am,” she said while fighting back tears.
“There’s no doubt about it that I’m slow...but at the same time, it’s how I play, I’m very slow, I do it for me,” she said.
“Clapping when you miss the first serve? Those kind of things? I have no understanding for it,” Siegemund added about the crowd.
Gauff doubled down on her criticism of how Veljovic presided over the match in her post-match press conference Monday night.
“I was really patient the whole match, she [Siegemund] was going over the time since the first set and I never said anything,” she said. “I would look at the umpire, and she didn’t do anything.”
Gauff explained that she debated whether to speak up earlier. She said that throughout the match she even heard the crowd criticizing Siegemund’s slower pace of play, and that her team had also encouraged her to approach the umpire.
But Gauff said that she reached a point in the match when she knew she had to say something.
“I was like, ‘OK this is going on way too long,’” she said. “So I was like, ‘all right, I have to say something.’”
“I think the officiating needs to be the same regardless of the player,” she added.
Apparently, Gauff’s decision to speak up was supported by at least one prominent attendee at Arthur Ashe on Monday night: Michelle Obama.
Gauff told reporters that she met with former President Barack Obama and the former first lady after the match, and that the “Becoming” author celebrated the fact that she stood up herself.
“[Michelle Obama] did say it’s good to speak up for myself,” she recalled. “I think she was happy that I spoke up for myself today.”