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Iga Swiatek worried players will be stabbed on court after protesters stormed Italian Open

Iga Swiatek has raised concerns over a repeat of the attack on Monica Seles, in which a spectator ran onto the court and stabbed her during a match. The world No. 1 admitted that she sometimes thought about the incident as she discussed the recent protests at the Italian Open. Tournament organisers called the police and firefighters when several demonstrators stormed the courts, while others glued themselves to the stands.

Protesters stormed the Italian Open on Monday, as there were two separate demonstrations on Pietrangeli and Court 12. Two matches were delayed when climate activists took to the courts and threw confetti on them. A third protest was also thwarted in the Grand Stand Arena, while other demonstrators glued themselves to the stands.

In a statement, the tournament said: “With the public very angry against the demonstrators, the police officers and firefighters also arrived. One of the demonstrators had moved onto the lawn under the big screen of (Court) Pietrangeli. He was taken away by the police.”

Swiatek has now weighed in after being asked how she felt about safety on the court following the protests and the four-time Major winner brought up the Seles stabbing. “Well, obviously probably the best way is to increase security,” the 22-year-old said.

“I’m not really sure how the security works because I’ve never had any situation where they had to kind of react when I was on court. I didn’t see the protest yesterday. I heard that there’s something going on. I didn’t see it. I don’t know if they were actually close to players or not.”

Addressing the increased disruptions and protests on tour, she added: “Well, there aren’t many thoughts. People want attention and they’re willing to do anything to get it. That’s how our world works right now.

“For sure, well, when I kind of saw what happened to Monica Seles, I for sure had a couple of weeks where I thought about it sometimes. The only thing you need to do is to trust that, if the situation happens, WTA will be ready with their security to react. That’s all.”

Seles was stabbed during a changeover in her quarter-final match against Magdalena Maleeva at the Citizen Cup Germany in 1993. As she leaned forward to have a drink, Gunter Parche attacked her with a nine-inch blade.

According to police, Parche was a fan of Steffi Graf and wanted to injure Seles so that she was unable to play tennis and Graf could return to No. 1 in the world. He was convicted in October 1993 but he was found to be psychologically abnormal during his trial.

He was sentenced to two years’ probation and psychological treatment. Seles was rushed to hospital and she did not return to competitive tennis for two years, despite needing several weeks to heal from her injuries.


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