Tennis: The Up-Side

This morning Scott wrote about the Davis Cup tennis match between Sweden and Israel, which Swedish authorities scheduled for Malmo, a largely Muslim city, and then barred the public from attending for “security reasons.” In fact, it seems obvious that the point was to make an anti-Israel political statement.

It’s only fair to note the more positive outcome of another tennis story: the United Arab Emirates’ refusal to grant a visa to Israeli player Shahar Peer to enter the country to participate in a WTA tournament in Dubai. The Emirates, like Sweden, cited “security concerns.” The WTA, however, didn’t buy it and fined the tournament’s organizers $300,000; Peer and her doubles partner will receive compensation for the slight.

Several prominent players spoke out against the Emirates’ action, including Venus Williams, who won the women’s singles title:

Venus Williams hailed ‘brave’ Israeli tennis star Shahar Peer after winning the Dubai Tennis Championship on Saturday. Peer was denied entry into the United Arab Emirates for the tournament.

“I felt like I had to talk about her,” Williams said. “I thought it was brave of her to come here and try and play despite knowing that it is not going to be easy for her. My dad grew up in an area where if you spoke too much, it was your life. So I felt I had a small opportunity to say something where everyone will listen.”

She added: “I am not here to rock any boat or upset people, I am just here to do things that are right….”

Andy Roddick, America’s top-ranked player and number six in the world, refused to play in Dubai even though he won the tournament there last year:

America’s Andy Roddick says he won’t defend his title at the Dubai ATP tournament next week in protest at the UAE’s refusal to grant a visa to Israel’s Shahar Peer at the WTA event at the same venue.

“I really didn’t agree with what went on over there,” Roddick told Saturday’s Los Angeles Times. “I don’t know if it’s the best thing to mix politics and sports, and that was probably a big part of it.”

The Emirates tennis authorities got the message; they granted Israeli player Andy Ram a visa to play in the men’s side of the tournament which took place shortly after the women’s.

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