British No1 Katie Boulter helps clear confetti after Just Stop Oil protesters hit Wimbledon for second time

5 July 2023, 14:23 | Updated: 5 July 2023, 21:09

Protesters from Just Stop Oil disrupted play at Wimbledon
Protesters from Just Stop Oil disrupted play at Wimbledon. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Asher McShane

British No1 Katie Boulter has helped clear confetti after Just Stop Oil protesters hit court 18 at Wimbledon for the second time.

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Play was halted for around 10 minutes after a protester interrupted Boulter's first-round match against Daria Saville. The pair helped clear the court after the man was escorted away.

He was arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass and criminal damage.

Metropolitan Police said: "We are aware of an incident on Court 18 whereby one male has unlawfully entered the field of play and discharged items onto the playing surface.

"He was immediately removed from the Grounds and arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass and criminal damage.

"The male is now in custody. Play on the court has been temporarily paused while the items are removed and will resume shortly.

"Police and AELTC (All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club) Security Teams are responding immediately to deal with these incidents."

Activists had already disrupted play between Gregor Dimitrov and Sho Shimabukuro earlier in the day.

They stormed onto court 18 and carried out a sit-down protest, throwing orange confetti onto the grass.

Read More: Five charged by Met during Just Stop Oil protest at London Pride as new police powers come into force

Reacting to the protests, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: "The protesters at Wimbledon were determined to ruin the day's play for spectators and sports fans across the world.

"This is unacceptable. We will be uncompromisingly tough on the selfish protesters intent on spoiling our world-class sporting occasions this summer.

"Sports, police and government are united against preventing further disruption of this kind."

A protester on court 18 throwing confetti on to the grass during Katie Boulter’s first-round match against Daria Saville on day three
A protester on court 18 throwing confetti on to the grass during Katie Boulter’s first-round match against Daria Saville on day three. Picture: Alamy
A lone protester appeared during the match
A lone protester appeared during the match. Picture: Alamy

It comes just one day after the Princess of Wales delighted fans at the same court buy turning up to watch UK No 1 Katie Boulter.

Wimbledon officials said that two people had been arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass and criminal damage.

In a statement, Just Stop Oil said "we can't leave it to the next generation to pick up the pieces".

Deborah Wilde, 68, a retired teacher from London, who was one of the protesters who ran on the court shortly after 2.10pm, said: "I'm just an ordinary grandmother in resistance to this government's policy of serving us new oil and gas licences. In normal circumstances this sort of disruption would be entirely unacceptable, but these aren't normal circumstances.

Just Stop Oil activists invade Wimbledon court and scatter jigsaw pieces as they disrupt play

"We've just had the hottest June on record, breaking the previous record by nearly a whole degree! We don't need Hawk-eye to see that our government issuing over 100 new fossil fuel licences is a very bad line-call.

"Forget strawberries and cream, scientists are warning of impending food shortages, mass displacement and war. We are facing new pandemics, economic inflation and increasingly authoritarian governments who will attempt to crush civil unrest.

They concealed the orange 'confetti' inside a Wimbledon jigsaw box
They concealed the orange 'confetti' inside a Wimbledon jigsaw box. Picture: BBC

"This is a crisis and it needs a crisis response. I want a safe future, not just for my grandchildren but for all children around the world and the generations to come."

The other Just Stop Oil protester who invaded Court 18 at Wimbledon was Simon Milner-Edwards, 66, a retired musician, from Manchester.

He said: "I'm here for my grandchildren and everybody else's. I'm not prepared to let our politicians wreck everything and leave the next generation to pick up the pieces.

The protesters are led away by police and Wimbledon officials
The protesters are led away by police and Wimbledon officials. Picture: Alamy

"The last thing I want to do is spoil people's enjoyment of Wimbledon, but right now, on Centre Court, it's humanity versus oil and gas - and the umpire is getting every call wrong.

"How long are we going to take this before we see a McEnroe-level meltdown?"

A female protester scatters confetti on Court 18
A female protester scatters confetti on Court 18. Picture: Alamy

It was reported last month that the protesters were 'hatching a plot' to disrupt the tournament.

At the start of this year’s tournament, the Just Stop Oil group were blamed for longer than normal queues due to heightened security procedures.

The protesters were taken to one side of the court before being led away
The protesters were taken to one side of the court before being led away. Picture: Alamy

Some fans were left waiting half a day to get into the tournament.

But the protesters today appeared to have got round security by disguising their confetti as jigsaw pieces in a Wimbledon merchandise jigsaw box.

Some 10,000 people lined up on the first day as security seized deodorant and sun cream, with powders, glue, chains and cable ties also explicitly banned.

One woman said she began queueing at 3.45am only to finally enter the grounds after 1pm.

London-based events manager Becky Deeming said she had got to the venue at 3.30am but only got in at 1.30pm.

She said: "A steward told me security is holding everything up because there were protesters at the Ashes and they are worried the same will happen here so they are checking more thoroughly."

All fans have to go through rigorous security checks where their bags are checked. Undercover police are also trying to spot protesters in the queues.

Security is so tight that Wimbledon's organisers warned anyone found possessing a banned item could be thrown out.

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