The Obamas’ Surprise US Open Appearance Even Wowed Coco Gauff

Former President of the United States Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama attend the m...
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While Wimbledon may have appearances from Princess Kate and Prince William, the US Open tennis tournament greeted some American political royalty on its opening night. On Monday, Barack and Michelle Obama took their seats inside Arthur Ashe Stadium to watch stars Coco Gauff and Novak Djokovic. And as if seeing the former First Couple in the flesh wasn’t enough, the New York crowd was treated to a surprise speech by Michelle.

After the completion of the first match won by American Gauff, Michelle took to the court to honor tennis icon Billie Jean King who fought for equal pay amongst male and female players in the 1970s. The US Open was also celebrating 50 years of equal prize money when it became the first sporting event to do so in 1973.

“Billie Jean teaches us that when things lie in the balance, we all have a choice to make,” Michelle said. “We can either wait around and accept what we’re given. We can sit silently and hope someone else fights our battles. Or we can make our own stand.”

“We can use whatever platforms we have to speak out and fight to protect the progress we’ve made, and level the playing field for all of our daughters and their daughters,” the former First Lady continued.

After Gauff’s victory, the Obamas greeted the athlete, who was surprised that they were in attendance. “Then Mr. Obama was there in the room, too. I was like, ‘Oh, my God,” Gauff said. “I haven’t soaked it in because I literally just walked in here. I think I’m going to never forget that moment for the rest of my life. I went from being really upset after a win to, like, being really happy. So I’m glad I got to meet them. They gave me some good advice, too.”

The Obamas were not the only A-listers in attendance for the evening—Alec Baldwin, Mike Tyson, Danny DeVito, Anna Wintour and Dr. Ruth Westheimer and more stars were in the crowd too. The couple seemed to be in good spirits as they supported the 19-year-old Gauff. Barack donned a white button-down and jacket while Michelle wore a strapless Oscar de la Renta denim midi dress that she layered with a black cardigan.

The Obamas have also proved themselves to be quite the tennis fans—they attended American Francis Tiafoe’s semifinal match last year, too. Following Michelle’s speech, King then took the stage where she discussed her commitment to equality in the sport.

“While we celebrate today, our work is far from done," King noted. "Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won. You earn it and you win it in every generation."