A French Open flare protestor interrupted Rafael Nadal's victory over David Ferrer Sunday and appeared to be demonstrating against the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in France. The masked man ran onto the court and lit a flare, but was taken off by security.
The French Open flare incident came when Nadal and Ferrer were in the seventh game of their second set. The Spanish tennis players had to stop the game when a shirtless man ran close to Nadal and lit a flare, waving it around to get the stadium's attention. Nadal, who was close by, stepped back and was flanked by a security guard ensuring his safety.
"I felt a little bit scared at the first moment because I didn't see what's going on. I just turned there and I watch some guy with some fire," Nadal told the Associated Press. "It's just one of those things that nobody can prevent."
The man, who reportedly had "Kids' Right" painted across his torso, was soon tackled by a security guard, hauled off the court, and thrown into the stands with his sweatshirt and lit flare. Nadal went on to beat Ferrer solidly 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 to win the French Open an eighth time, and thanked the security team for their quick reaction in the face of potential danger.
"Thank you very much to all the security guys. They just did amazing work. They (were) very quick and they were very courageous," he said.
The tournament director, though, was seemingly more upset that protestors had interrupted the final match to demonstrate, showing a lack of respect for both players.
"The only thing I will (say is that luckily our security services did a great job," Gilbert Ysern, director of the tournament, told AP. "I don't want to give any additional publicity to these people, who, sadly, have a lack of respect for sport and sportsmen. It's just pathetic."
At the same time the protestor with the flare was captured, other topless demonstrators at the nearby Court Suzanne Lenglen revealed red flares and a banner calling for the resignation of French President Francois Hollande. 10 minutes earlier, men and women at Court Phillipe Chatrier held up a banner saying: "Help! France is trampling on children's rights."
The protests in France have come after a decision in May granting same-sex couples the ability to marry across the country. Ever since, traditional marriage advocates have demonstrated, with thousands appearing for marches.