Shahar Peer, who became the first Israeli to play tennis in Qatar and the entire Persian Gulf region last year, hoped to make history again in the United Arab Emirates by taking part in the Dubai Tennis Championships this week, but was denied the chance to do so by the hosting country.
Peer, who was scheduled to play against Anna Chakvetadze of Russia in singles and join forces with German Anna-Lena Groenefeld in doubles, was denied an entrance visa to the country, and therefore forced to give up her chance to participate in the $2,000,000 tournament.
Peer, who is ranked number 48 by the WTA, was recently was eliminated from the Pattaya Open in Thailand by Russian Vera Zvonareva. The United Arab Emirates did not permit the Israeli to enter Dubai, and she will therefore board a plane from Thailand back to Israel instead.
Peer's next challenge will be in Monterrey tennis tournament in Mexico in two weeks.
This was not the first time Israeli tennis players tried to take part in the Dubai tournament. Last year, after Peer became to first Israel to take part in the Doha tournament in Qatar, both Tzipi Obziler (singles) and Andy Ram and Yoni Ehrlich (doubles) hoped to make a breakthrough in Dubai but later decided to give up on the idea.
In response to the UAE's decision to deny Peer entry, WKBN.com news website quoted a statement by Women's Tennis Association Chairman and CEO Larry Scott saying, "We are deeply disappointed by the decision of the UAE denying Shahar Peer a visa that would permit her to enter the country to play in the Dubai Tennis Championships. Ms. Peer has earned the right to play in the tournament and it is regrettable that the UAE is denying her this right.
"The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour believes very strongly, and has a clear rule and policy, that no host country should deny a player the right to compete at a tournament for which she has qualified by ranking," Scott said. "The Tour is reviewing appropriate remedies for Ms. Peer and also will review appropriate future actions with regard to the future of the Dubai tournament."