Home Secretary Suella Braverman has condemned Just Stop Oil’s “unacceptable” protests at Wimbledon after play was halted on Court 18 for a second time on Wednesday.
A demonstrator threw confetti on to the grass during British number one Katie Boulter’s first-round match against Australian Daria Saville.
Around two hours earlier, there was similar disruption on the same court by two other activists during Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov’s clash with Japanese player Sho Shimabukur.
Ms Braverman denounced the demonstrators’ “selfish” behaviour, saying: “The protesters at Wimbledon were determined to ruin the day’s play for spectators and sports fans across the world.
“We will be uncompromisingly tough on the selfish protesters intent on spoiling our world-class sporting occasions this summer.”
Speaking after winning her match, Boulter said the disruption was “a shock to the system” and called it “a really unfortunate situation for everyone”.
Just Stop Oil said in the first incident the supporters ran on to the court at around 2.10pm and “threw environmentally-friendly orange confetti glitter and jigsaw pieces on to the courts, before being removed”.
Live TV footage showed two people running on to the grass just as Dimitrov was about to take his second serve at the beginning of the second game of the second set.
Orange paper was seen being thrown into the air resulting in the umpire calling “wait please”, as the BBC commentator said: “Oh no. Once more orange clouds hang over a British sporting event this summer.”
One of the protesters then sat down on the court near to umpire’s chair and live coverage of the court was paused.
Due to a break for rain, the match didn’t resume until about 3pm.
Three people have been arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass and criminal damage following the disruption.
Deborah Wilde, who was one of the protesters who ran on court in the first incident, 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.”
The retired teacher, 68, from London, added: “Forget strawberries and cream, scientists are warning of impending food shortages, mass displacement and war.
“This is a crisis and it needs a crisis response.”
The second Just Stop Oil protester was retired musician Simon Milner-Edwards, 66, from Manchester.
He said: “I’m here for my grandchildren and everybody else’s.
“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.”
The protester who made it on to Court 18 in the second incident was 66-year-old William John Ward.
The retired civil engineer from Surrey was immediately removed from the grounds by police and detained.
He said: “I don’t like making a racket, but I don’t want my grandchildren, nieces and nephews to suffer. Right now, millions of people are being forced outside of the conditions necessary to support human life.
“I have no choice but to get the message out in whatever way I can.”
Leafblowers were used to clear the court following the protests and the ball boys and girls were also seen trying to collect the confetti.
Security had been stepped up for the Grand Slam event after a spate of protests at high-level events in Britain. Andy Murray had expressed concern that play would be interrupted, warning protesters that players carried tennis rackets.
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer advised potential future event disruptors to “think again” with Ms Braverman adding: “Sports, police and government are united against preventing further disruption of this kind.”
The group also attempted to protest at luxury department store Harrods, with members of the group pictured on an escalator in the store holding placards, before the security team escorted them out.
A spokesperson for Harrods said: “A group from Just Stop Oil staged a small protest in store today…There was no impact on operations, and we continued to welcome customers in store as normal.”
Further slow marches took place across some of the busiest areas in London, including Westminster, Victoria and Tower Bridge.
The environmental group disrupted the second Ashes cricket test at Lord’s last week, attempting to spread orange powder on the wicket.
They also intervened in this year’s Premiership Rugby final and the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield where they smeared orange powder over a table.
Written by: Newsroom