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WTA Tour stars rally round Peer


 

Originally published on: 26/02/10 15:26

Some of the worlds leading women players have rallied round Shahar Peer after the Israeli was denied an entry visa to the UAE for this weeks Barclays Dubai Championships.

The tennis world has been quick to offer its support for the world No.45 after she was denied her place at the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Premier event, which began on Sunday.

‘It’s very unfortunate, I feel very sorry for her’ – Ivanovic

The Dubai tournament is one of the most prestigious on the women’s tour, with nine of the top 10 players competing this year.

Peer was scheduled to play 15th seed Anna Chakvetadze of Russia in the $2 million event on Monday but had to withdraw from the tournament.

It’s not acceptable, said Frenchwoman and former world No.1 Amelie Mauresmo. I think sport should be above issues like that to do with religion and wars… I’m surprised.

Russian world No.4 Elena Dementieva added her support and said she sympathised with how Peer must be feeling.

I feel very sorry for her, the Olympic champion said. She’s a very good girl and very sensitive. I played her in Auckland and there was some kind of demonstration during the match.

I just feel sad for her. She really cares about what’s going on between Israel and Palestine and it’s just a very tough situation. I think the tour takes it seriously and I wish she could play in Dubai.

The second seed in Dubai, world No.2 Dinara Safina, also lent her support. It’s pretty disappointing she’s not playing here, the Aussie Open runner-up said.

She’s a great player and a great athlete. I hope she will have many more chances. I think the WTA is doing its best.

And former world No.1 Ana Ivanovic also voiced her concerns.

It’s very unfortunate, I feel very sorry for her, the reigning French Open champion said.

Shahar is a friend of mine and I feel sorry she’s not here. It’s always a pity to mix politics and sport.

Breaking news: Statement from Shahar Peer

In response to the tremendous outpouring of support and empathy over the UAE decision to deny me a visa that would allow me to play in the Dubai Tennis Championships, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to my friends and fans around the world, and my fellow players.

While this is a very difficult moment for me personally and professionally, and the fact that the visa denial was issued at the last moment, I firmly believe that my fellow competitors should not be harmed the way I was they were in or on their way to Dubai and denying them the right to play in this years tournament at the last moment would not make the wrong right. In fact, it troubles me greatly that my doubles partner Anna-Lena Groenefeld from Germany will not be able to compete as we had planned.

Going forward, I am confident that the Tour will take appropriate actions to ensure that this injustice is not allowed to occur in the future, and that the Tour will make sure I will not be further harmed in the short and long term. There should be no place for politics or discrimination in professional tennis or indeed any sport.

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