Wimbledon’s opening round is serving up more than just aces this week after Australian tennis player Daria Saville was “rattled” by climate protestors who stormed on her court during her fist set tie-break.
The two protestors, members of the Just Stop Oil group, made their way onto Court 18 during the break and proceeded to scatter orange confetti, jigsaw pieces and bracelet beads, before being taken away by security while both Saville and Boulter helped clean up the mess.
— Katie Smith (@K_CroydenSmith) July 5, 2023
The incident couldn’t have come at the worst time for the Aussie, who initially led the matching 4-2 against Britain’s Katie Boulter. Saville admitted the incident had left her “really rattled”, causing her to lose the set 7-6, 6-2.
“These were the toughest circumstances I have had to deal with, I thought I would help pick up the pieces: it was nice to focus on picking up the pieces rather than stewing on ‘what I am going to play next?’ Or ‘how to play the next point’,” Saville said after the match.
When asked if the protestors’ actions upset her, she replied: “It was, oh my god, why on my court? I am the worst at being able to focus.”
Just oil protestor @ Wimbledon. Nuance. pic.twitter.com/FiHsvwcow0
— M (@anngrypakiistan) July 5, 2023
The same stunt was also pulled hours earlier on Court 18 during Bulgarian tennis player Grigor Dimitrov’s match against Japanese tennis player Sho Shimabukuro.
Following an incident on Court 18, two individuals have been arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass and criminal damage and these individuals have now been removed from the Grounds.
Play on the court was temporarily paused and, following a suspension in play due to a rain…
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 5, 2023
It’s likely the protestors had chosen to disrupt Saville and Boutler’s match due to the presence of Catherine, Princess of Wales, who was among the spectators. The Princess was escorted away from the game without incident.
This wouldn’t be the first time the anti-oil and gas activist group have made headlines with a public stunt. Last year, members set their sights on the Royals, defacing a waxwork of King Charles III.
In a video shared on the anti-oil and gas activist group’s Twitter, two protesters were seen crossing the ropes and stripping to display tee-shirts emblazoned with “Just Stop Oil” before slamming chocolate cake into the face of King Charles’ waxwork.
The activists said they had set their sights on His Majesty following his withdrawal from the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP 27.