"The smell, oh my god! I think it's from the park" Greece's Maria Sakkari, ranked No. 8 in the world, was heard saying during her match against Spain's Rebeka Masarova, ranked No. 71, in the first round of the U.S. Open. Sakkari fell 6-4, 6-4.
The tennis player clarified that the discomfort did not affect her unexpected defeat. "I was not affected by this smell in any way. It was just a comment, it has nothing to do with the match," she said in statements collected by the sports media outlet, USA Today Sports.
Sakkari said the smell of marijuana came from the nearby park, one of the largest in New York: "We can't control it, there´s a park behind and people can do whatever they want."
Maria Sakkari smells weed during tennis match. pic.twitter.com/JDRvAV8NXc
— MMA Cardinal🥇🥊 (@MmaCardinal) August 28, 2023
"Court 17 definitely smells like Snoop Dogg’s living room," joked Alexander Zverev. It's the same court Sakkari played on.
The German, ranked No. 12 in the men's category, spoke about the smell at the press conference after overwhelming Australian Aleksandar Vukic in three sets, also in the first round. "My God, it’s everywhere. The whole court smells like weed."
"I smelled it actually today also," Marketa Vondrousova said after winning her match on Court 17. In statements collected by The Citizens' Voice, the Czech tennis player agreed that the smell came from the park, and added that it was only really on that court.
Australian Nick Kyrgios complained last year, in the middle of the match, about the smell of marijuana. Absent this year due to injury, Kyrgios said on that occasion that it could harm his game and health:
People don’t know it, but I’m a heavy asthmatic. When I’m running side to side, I’m struggling to breathe, so it is probably not something I want to be breathing in between points.
Ricardo Rojas, a member of the security staff, acknowledged to The Citizens' Voice that there was "definitely" the smell of marijuana. But that the organization of the contest had its hands tied, since although you can not smoke inside the complex what happens in New York is "outside my jurisdiction."
It is legal for adults over the age of 21 to possess cannabis for personal use in the city that never sleeps. You can smoke or vape it in all places where you can also smoke tobacco.
The 2023 World Cannabis Price Index ranked New York as the most cannabis-consuming city, with an average of more than 60 metric tons of weed each consumed each year by its residents. Seven times more than the second, Sydney, Australia.