Peer proud to divide sport from politics
Originally published on: 22/02/12 15:48
Shahar Peer’s run in the singles tournament at the Dubai Duty Free Championships came to an end today, but the 24-year-old will take away some special memories. Peer, who made history when she became the first Israeli woman to play in the event two years ago, was beaten 7-5, 6-4 by Agnieszka Radwanska, though she is still in the doubles tournament.
The United Arab Emirates has no diplomatic links with Israel and its government refused to grant Peer a visa to play in the tournament in 2009. However, she was given a visa in 2010 and has now played there for the last three years. This week she was even given a wild card because her ranking was not high enough to earn direct entry.
For security reasons Peer’s matches are played on a closely guarded outside court. She also has to use a separate locker room. In 2010 and 2011 she was allowed to travel only between her hotel and the tennis club, but this year the restrictions have been relaxed and she was taken on a visit to the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
“The view was amazing – I took 80 pictures,” Peer said. “Everything in Dubai is the biggest or the fastest or the nicest and they’re things that you never see anywhere else in the world.”
Peer also visited a mall and saw the Dubai Fountain, a spectacular attraction which shoots water 500ft into the air. “They put on the fountain twice for us,” she said. “Then we went to the mall and saw the aquarium, so for me it was really amazing. I appreciate the fact that they let us do something like that.” She added: “I’d always heard how nice Dubai is and for the first time I can really say that I’ve seen something.”
The world No.40 is proud of her appearances here. “People always talk about trying to separate sport and politics,” she said. “I think me and the tournament and everybody here have overcome a lot of things that people in the world would never think would have happened.”