During Sunday’s 2013 men’s French Open final between Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer, a spectator charged the court with a lit road flare. He was quickly intercepted by Roland Garros security, according to BBC Sports:
Here’s another picture of the dramatic moment when an intruder raced onto the Roland Garros court with a flare: pic.twitter.com/kCFwHI7luH— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) June 9, 2013
This was a scary situation for everyone involved, one that clearly shook both the players on the court and the fans in the stands. While the culprit likely didn’t feel his intentions were evil, this is an incident that should never happen.
The finals match continued, but the focus on the court-storming spectator marred the matchup and put the focus on the security of Roland Garros. There is no doubt that the officials reacted quickly to the incident Sunday, but the fact he reached the court with a flare is still concerning.
There isn’t much security could do if this was an organized attempt to get notoriety for running on the court, but a person cutting through the crowd toward the main playing area is a serious situation.
Fortunately, the situation was not any worse than it was, and nobody was hurt.
This incident reminded everyone at Roland Garros of the always-present threat that playing in front of a live crowd can create for all athletes, but especially tennis players.
In an incident that will forever live in infamy in the sport, on April 30, 1993, tennis legend Monica Seles was stabbed by a charging fan from the stands during a match in Hamburg, Germany.
Seles' injury wasn’t life-threatening, but the fact that she was attacked by a fan during a match has left a scar on the sport of tennis that is re-opened every time a person breaks onto the court.
It is far from a joke for the players and the officials at Roland Garros.