Wimbledon security challenge activists in 'Where is Peng Shuai?' t-shirts
Concerns remain for the Chinese tennis player
Nine-time Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova was amongst those to criticise security personnel at the All England Club after footage emerged of them questioning activists seen wearing 'Where is Peng Shuai?' t-shirts.
Chinese tennis star Peng disappeared from public view late last year after appearing to allege a former senior Communist Party official in her homeland had pressured her into sex.
She has since retracted her comments and appeared at the Winter Olympics in Beijing earlier this year, but concerns that she is unable to act and speak freely remain, prompting the WTA to suspend staging any of its events in China.
A group of four men representing the Free Tibet human rights organisation were seen at Wimbledon on Monday, all wearing the t-shirts.
Footage of them being challenged by security later appeared online. The men are said to have been told that the championships want to remain 'politically neutral'.
"We were peacefully walking around the grounds, occasionally talking to people about Peng Shuai," Free Tibet representative Will Hoyles told The Telegraph.
"We were getting huge support from people around the grounds. At one point security staff started questioning us and when we said we were just talking to people she told us not to approach people and that Wimbledon wants to remain politically neutral.
"Peng Shuai is still not free and WTA agrees. Wimbledon should be speaking out for her release and not trying to stop tennis fans discussing human rights."
Footage of the exchange between the activists and security staff later reached Navratilova, who shared it on her Twitter page.
'What? Not allowed to speak?!? WTH?' she tweeted.
What? Not allowed to speak?!? WTH? https://t.co/RRsTVhHMWd
— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) July 4, 2022
An All England Club spokesperson confirmed to The Telegraph that security staff had approached the men, but they were allowed to continue wearing the t-shirts.
'These individuals are now enjoying their day with us and continue to be able to wear their T-shirts,' the spokesperson said. '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.'