A protester has set himself on fire on a tennis court just before Roger Federer is due to play his last ever match at the 02 in a shocking incident.
Novelist JK Rowling, model Jodie Kidd and rugby ace Chris Robshaw all looked on in horror as the climate activist set his right arm alight in the middle of the court to protest the use of private jets in the UK.
The 20 year-old protester, named Kai, is a member of the End UK Private Jets group, which claims that ‘carbon emissions in 2022 are genocide’.
The tennis legend revealed earlier this month that the London tournament, the Laver Cup, would be the final competition of his career, having struggled with a series of injuries in recent years.
Yesterday, tennis icons Andy Murray, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic all played on the same court with the Swiss ace, who has won 20 majors, just shy of Djokovic and Nadal’s records, in a doubles match at the tournament.
Federer recieved a standing ovation on the court yesterday for the final match of his 24-year-long career as he played alongside his long-term competitor for Team Europe against American duo Jack Sock and Francis Tiafoe.
Rowling was also seated beside her husband of more than 20 years, Neil Murray, a Scottish doctor.
J. K. Rowling (bottom middle), Neil Murray (bottom left, her husband), Jodie Kidd (behind, Rowling) and Chris Robshaw (top right) look on during Day One of the Laver Cup at The O2 Arena today
The climate activist ran onto the court at the 02 Arena in London and set his arm on fire
The man, named Kai, seemed distressed but his arm did not seem to be harmed by the fire
Security were finally able to drag the man away to allow the match between Tsitsipas and Diego Schwartzman to continue
The man appeared in several videos in the past explaining his hardline stance on climate activism
Kai argued society ‘should be stopping the climate emergency as fast as possible’
Federer and Nadal are set to play together in the Laver Cup doubles final tonight against Americans Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe.
The climate change activist interrupted the second set of a men’s singles match between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Schwartzman.
He lit himself on fire and grimaced as the flames licked his arm, but it did not appear to harm him.
He rubbed his arm to put the flames out as he sat on the tennis court while security rushed over to grab him, eventually dragging him away.
The man has appeared in several videos in the past explaining his hardline stance on climate activism.
A video was posted on Twitter by End UK Private Jets immediately after the stunt of Kai explaining why he was going to set his arm on fire.
The Swiss star won 20 Grand Slam Championships across his impressive tennis career and appeared for the begining of the Laver Cup
He said: ‘In a few hours time I’m going to go to the Laver Cup tennis tournament and set my arm on fire on the court.
‘People are gonna say stuff like ‘this is horrible’, people in the stadium are going to be disturbed, and anyone who hears about it is going to be really traumatised, especially if they’ve had experiences with things like self harm.
‘Feelings of anger about this… I think it’s right to feel anger about that because it’s unjust, people experiencing suffering.
‘Humanity should have a responsibility to stop that sort of s*** happening, no one deserves to experience suffering, especially not young and vulnerable people.
‘If we truly believe that… the way we act like that’s true is by stopping the climate emergency as fast as possible.
‘Because right now we’re on a path where hundreds of millions of people are going through unimaginable suffering which is social collapse, torture, starvation, drought and war and s*** like that.’
Roger Federer received a standing ovation from the crowd at the O2 Arena on Friday afternoon
Federer – who sits third in the men’s all-time tally – bows out as one of the greatest to ever take to the court, claiming a stunning total of 103 singles titles on the ATP Tour.
The Laver Cup, which Federer helped to establish in 2017, sees Team Europe go up against Team World in tennis’ version of golf’s Ryder Cup, with nine singles and three doubles matches taking place at London’s O2 Arena.
When he announced he was leaving professional tennis, the ‘champion’s champion’ was hailed as the man who went on to ‘change the game’ of tennis by the sport’s past and present heroes.
Federer announced last Thursday that he will retire from the sport at the age of 41, with the last tournament of his illustrious career to be the Laver Cup in London, scheduled to be held at the O2 Arena next weekend.
A 20-time Grand Slam champion, Federer is viewed as one of, if not, the Greatest of All Time in tennis, and he has proven to be a source of inspiration to many top players, not least new world No 1 Carlos Alcaraz.
‘Roger…’ new US Open champion Alcaraz tweeted, accompanied by a broken heart emoji. ‘Roger has been one of my idols and a source of inspiration!
‘Thank you for everything you have done for our sport! I still want to play with you! Wish you all the luck in the world for what comes next!’
Retiring Federer said: ‘To my tennis family and beyond, of all the gifts that tennis has given me over the years, the greatest, without a doubt, has been the people I’ve met along the way: my friends, my competitors, and most of all the fans who give the sport its life.’