Who remembers Shahar Peer? At the 2007 Australian Open, Peer became the first Israeli woman to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam event.
In February of 2009, though, the young lady was prevented from playing in the Dubai Tennis Championships, after being denied a visa by the United Arab Emirates. Reason? Because that particular country has no diplomatic relations with the Jewish country, or, they don’t recognize the State of Israel. The tournament director, Salah Tahlak, said that Peer was refused on the grounds that her appearance on the court would incite Arab anger â€“ and all of this came after the Israeli teenager faced protests at the ASB Classic over the 2008-2009 war in Gaza.
Other players in the circuit got behind her â€“ Venus Williams, whose sister Serena defeated Peer in the quarter finals of the Australian Open in 2007 condemned the action not to grant Peer a visa. WTA chief Larry Scott considered cancelling the tournament, but Peer talked him out of it.
Well, the Tennis Channel decided not to televise the event and The Wall Street Journal dropped its sponsorship. Finally Andy Roddick chose not to defend his title, with prize money of over $2 million, to protest against the UAE’s refusal to grant Peer a visa for the event.
“I really didn’t agree with what went on over there.”
Shahar has made her country proud, by winning her opening match in this year’s tournament against Yanina Wickmayer. The organizers last year were fined $300,000 by the WTA after denying Shahar the opportunity to participate.
So Mazal Tov to you Shahar. Good luck in your next matchesâ€¦