French Open: Masked protester interrupts final

THE French Open men’s final between Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer was dramatically interrupted today by a masked protester carrying a flare.

Security tackle a masked protester. Picture: AFP

Nadal had just gone 5-1 up in the second set when a bare-chested man with ‘KIDS RIGHT’ written on his stomach, wearing a white face mask and with a red flare in his hand, leapt out of the crowd near the umpire’s chair and on to Court Philippe Chatrier.

He was not far away from Nadal but was quickly tackled by security staff and wrestled to the ground just off the court, with the Spaniard, who went on to win an eighth French Open title, later shaking the hand of a member of the security staff.

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A few minutes earlier, play had been briefly interrupted when protesters high in the stands began chanting.

They were waving a banner saying in English, ‘Help France tramples on children’s rights’, and it was believed the protests were coordinated by people opposed to gay marriage.

There were also protests on Roland Garros’ second court, Suzanne Lenglen, where a group of men also with slogans on their bodies and wearing masks held up flares and unveiled a banner calling on president Francois Hollande to resign.

The same-sex marriage bill, which also legalises gay adoption, was signed into law by Hollande last month and a huge protest march took place in Paris on the first day of the tournament two weeks ago.

A spokeswoman for the France Tennis Federation said: “The incident is over and is now in the hands of the police.”

Nadal’s PR representative Benito Perez Barbadillo tweeted: “When are they going to stop mixing politics and sport? Left, right, center, they are all the same. Leave us alone!”

It is the second time in five years an intruder has managed to get on to Court Philippe Chatrier during the men’s final.

In 2009, a man dressed in a Spanish bullfighter’s outfit was allowed to confront Roger Federer before being tackled by security staff.