A PROTESTER has been removed from the Wimbledon men’s final after shouting about a “missing” player in the middle of a point.
Security moved quickly to bundle the man out of centre court after yelling “Where is Peng Shuai?” causing the match to be disrupted.
Boos could be heard echoing around the court as the finalists Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios watched on during the third set.
Peng, a Chinese tennis player, disappeared from the public eye shortly after she accused the retired Vice Premier of China, Zhang Gaoli, of sexual assault in 2021.
She then emerged on state media two weeks later, although critics in the West think her return was staged after concerns were raised over her welfare.
Peng is still yet to fully return, despite several months passing.
The protester, identified as Drew Pavlou, took to his Twitter account to explain his actions.
Writing on the social media site, he claimed: “I held up a sign at the Wimbledon Final saying ‘Where Is Peng Shuai?’ I shouted ‘Where Is Peng Shuai, Chinese tennis star persecuted by the Chinese government, why won’t Wimbledon say something?’.”
On Monday, four members of an activist group wearing ‘Where is Peng Shuai” t-shirts were stopped and questioned by security at the All England Club.
The group had said they would return on Sunday and distribute tops to spectators.
Jason Leith, one of the activists who was stopped, said in a statement: “Our simple action on Monday gained huge support from tennis fans and we think they will want to show their solidarity with Peng Shuai and other victims of Chinese human rights abuses.
“We hope that the All England Club will embrace this peaceful statement and acknowledge their missing champion ahead of the women’s doubles finals.”
China has denied allegations of human rights abuses and said it is against the “politicisation” of sport.
In February, Peng appeared at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and announced her retirement and denied she had been sexually assaulted by the Chinese official.
The WTA, the governing body of women’s tennis, have been unable to contact the 36-year-old star for months and have since decided to withdraw future tournaments from China.
At the time she also gave an interview to the French publication L’Equipe
Former world No.14 Peng said: “I don’t think I was aware of it all (global interest) because I don’t watch the news from foreign media much.
“I can’t read in English but I heard about it. I never thought there’d be such worry, though, and I’d like to know why was that the case?
“Sexual assault? I never said anyone had sexually assaulted me in any way.
“There was a huge misunderstanding in the outside world following this post.
“I don’t want the meaning of this post to be twisted anymore. And I don’t want any further media hype around it.
“I never disappeared. Everyone could see me. I never disappeared.
“It’s just that many people, like my friends or people from the IOC messaged me, and it was simply impossible to answer so many messages.
“But I’ve been always in close contact with my close friends.
“I talked to them, I answered their emails, I also talked with the WTA.
“At the end of the year, the communication IT system of their website was changed and many players had difficulties logging in. But my colleagues and I always stayed in touch.
“That’s why I don’t know why the news I had disappeared spread.”
But concern has not gone away that Peng, who has retired from pro tennis, is being monitored and denied the freedom to talk and move.