Shahar Pe’er reaches third round of tennis tournament in Dubai
Israel’s Shahar Pe’er reached the third round of a tennis tournament in Dubai a year after being denied a visa to compete there.
Competing amid tight security, Pe’er defeated Virginia Razzano of France, 6-2, 6-2, in slightly over an hour Tuesday at the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships.
A day earlier Pe’er, who is ranked No. 22 in the world but is unseeded in the tournament, upset 13th-seeded Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 to advance.
Pe’er is restricted to traveling from the tennis courts to her hotel. She is also separated from the rest of the players and has her own dressing room and gym, according to reports. Spectators of Pe’er’s matches must be screened by metal detectors.
“It was a very important victory for me,” Pe’er said after the Wickmayer match. “I felt very proud to be representing Israel in a country that does not recognize it.”
She went on to say that “It’s more than beating Yanina, it was more of me handling all the stuff around and able to put everything on the side and just play tennis, and do what I like to do, and just concentrate on the [match] and not the politics.”
Pe’er also won her doubles match on Monday.
Last year, a day before Pe’er was set to leave for Dubai, the United Arab Emirates denied her a visa. The World Tennis Association fined the tournament organizers $300,000, and secured assurances that Pe’er would be able to participate in this year’s tournament.