Where Is Peng Shuai? protester kicked out of Centre Court during men’s final

Credit: PA

A Where Is Peng Shuai? protester has been kicked out of Centre Court by security after trying to shout and hold up a banner from the stands during the men’s singles final at Wimbledon.

Drew Pavlou, 27, tried to enter the stands during the match between Australian Nick Kyrgios and top seed Novak Djokovic.

Kyrgios could be seen turning around in confusion as Mr Pavlou shouted from high up in the stand before promptly being bundled out by security.

Mr Pavlou, who said he had a ticket for the final, said that he held up his banner and shouted: “Where Is Peng Shuai?

“The tennis star has been persecuted by the Chinese government. Why won’t Wimbledon say anything?”

On November 2 last year, Shuai posted on her Weibo social media account that Zhang Gaoli - who served as vice premier and was a member of China's top decision-making body - coerced her into sex, before the pair had an on-off consensual relationship.

The post was removed from her verified account on Weibo, and China’s entirely state-controlled media has suppressed all reporting on the case. She then went missing for a few weeks but has since taken back the allegation.

Mr Pavlou said a security guard pushed him so his shins were forced into the row of seats in front of him and they both tumbled into the row in front.

Where is Peng Shuai? protesters have been at Wimbledon over the past two weeks. Credit: PA

He said the security guard then became “riled up” and that he “then grabbed me and pushed me face-first down the stairs”.

“He smashed my face up against the wall and twisted my arms behind my back, leading me down the stairs,” Mr Pavlou added.

Mr Pavlou, who led the Where Is Peng Shuai campaign at the Australian Open and flew to the UK to share the message at Wimbledon, claimed they said to him: “You’re going to be arrested now.”

But when he was removed from the stadium, the security staff let him go.

It comes after a group of protesters, mostly from the campaign Free Tibet, have come to Wimbledon this week wearing T-shirts reading: “Where Is Peng Shuai?”

The former Wimbledon doubles champion disappeared from public view last year after she accused a senior Chinese official of sexual assault in November 2021.

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On Friday, Mr Pavlou also clashed with security staff on the SW19 grounds when he displayed a banner saying: “Where Is Peng Shuai?”.

The club told him he could hold the sign around the grounds but not on the hill or the courts because of the club’s policy against the size of banners and flags.

Mr Pavlou said: “They threatened to call the police on me.” Wimbledon contested that he was threatened with arrest.

Mr Pavlou said security took issue with the message being “political”, and they asked him to put down the sign.

He said: “I don’t think this is a political statement. I don’t think it is a divisive statement. It’s a humanitarian message and I just want more people to see it.”

A protester earlier this week, Credit: PA

Speaking about the group of security standing nearby, he said: “I think they’re trying to intimidate me, they are trying to scare me.

A spokesperson for the All England Club on Friday said: “As is entirely in keeping with our security protocols and ‘Conditions of Entry’, a guest holding a banner was approached by security colleagues to discuss their intentions.

“They were not threatened with arrest and continue to enjoy their day with us on the grounds.

“Like much of the tennis community and people around the world more broadly, we remain very concerned for Peng Shuai and we continue to support the WTA’s efforts.”

The All England Club has been contacted for comment on the latest incident.