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Coco Gauff’s opponent: US Open fans ‘treated me like a bad person’

Laura Siegemund took offense to the US Open crowd's reaction to her pace of play. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Laura Siegemund hit back at the US Open crowd for showing her a lack of respect during her three-set loss to Coco Gauff in the first round of the Grand Slam tournament.

During the match, each player approached the chair umpire at least once with complaints. Siegemund did so twice, including after she received a time violation in the third set. Siegemund repeatedly took her time getting ready both on and off the serve, to which the American Gauff took offense and the crowd responded by booing.

“They treated me like I was a bad person,” Siegemund said of the fans during her post-match press conference. “Would I enjoy it more if you played a great shot and the people would scream and give you the respect you deserved for your performance in that moment? Yes, you enjoy it more.”

At different points during the match, the fans in Arthur Ashe Stadium made noises during Siegemund’s serves, calling “Time!” when she ran down the serve clock.

Siegemund complained to umpire Marijana Veljovic about the crowd, but there wasn’t much to be done.

“I never did anything against the audience,” she said. “I stayed calm. I never made — not even a gesture — against the audience. And they had no respect for me. They had no respect for the way I played. They have no respect for the player that I am. They have no respect for tennis, for good tennis. This is something that I have to say hurts really bad.”

Siegemund, a 35-year-old German and two-time Grand Slam doubles champion, said she was proud of how she played the match.

“As a tennis player, you are a performer,” she said. “You owe the people. … At the end of the day I go home and I look at myself and I can say I did a great job. But did I get anything from the people for that? I didn’t.

“They treated me bad. They treated me like I was a cheater. Like I was trying sneaky ways to win this match or something. They treated me like I was a bad person. But you know there are people who are throwing racquets, who are screaming, who are like making bad gestures toward the audience. I did not one moment in the whole match, and there was a lot of tension going on. Not one moment I did anything.

“I was just slow. That’s something in the rules, I get my time violation, that’s fine.”

Following the match, Gauff — who went viral for approaching the umpire — said she didn’t regret her response and wished she had said something about Siegemund’s delay tactics earlier. Former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were in attendance for the match, and Gauff said Michelle praised her afterward speaking up for herself.

“I wasn’t sure if I was in the right or not until it, like, happened multiple times. Then I was like, OK, I know I’m in the right,” the 19-year-old said. “For me, I try my best not to let my emotions take over myself. I wanted to express my frustration but also being censored. … I was trying to best communicate how I was feeling to the referee. … I’d still say everything I said in that moment again.”

Gauff is moving onto the third round of the US Open after defeating Mirra Andreeva in straight sets on Wednesday.