ROME, Italy—Tennis suffered its latest episode of protest-induced delays on Monday: protestors in orange vests barnstormed multiple courts at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and scattered confetti on the clay.

Madison Keys and Sorana Cirstea were playing the second set of their fourth-round match on Pietrangeli, with Keys leading by 6-2, 3-1, when a protestor ran on court with bags of confetti, which he proceeded to scatter before a group of security guards hauled him off court. Play was suspended so that the court could be cleaned for nearly an hour.

"Honestly, as soon as I saw them come over the barrier, my first thought was, 'Should I go tackle them?'" Keys said after the match. "Then I stopped myself and the chair umpire started yelling at me to sit down.

"Unfortunately, it's starting to become a little bit of a common thing that's happening, and it's something the tournaments are going need to figure out how to stop. At that point, I figured it was going to be a little bit of a delay and just tried to get off the court and regroup."

Italian journalist Angelica Fratini took video of the incident as it happened:


A similar incident occurred moments later on Court 12 in a men’s doubles match between Édouard Roger-Vasselin and Santiago González against Marcelo Arévalo and Mate Pavić. Pavić got face to face with one of the two protestors, who also scattered confetti and causing an additional suspension of play.

According to Portuguese journalist José Morgado, a third protest was planned on Grandstand Arena but was stopped before the actors could make it onto the court.

"It’s obviously not the greatest feeling when you're on court, and your first reaction is your own safety," Keys said. "I think maybe banning cement and glue from bags may be start!"

Protests during tennis matches have become more and more frequent in the last few years, notably during the US Open semifinal between Coco Gauff and Karolina Muchova, when an environmental activist glued his feet to the Arthur Ashe Stadium stands and caused a 50-minute delay in play.

Another protest disrupted play at Wimbledon when puzzle pieces were scattered across the court, first in a first-round match between Grigor Dimitrov and Sho Shimabukuro, and later, during the women's singles match between Katie Boulter and Daria Saville.