Billie Jean King says Peer's Dubai ban shameful
LONDON (Reuters) - Former tennis champion and equal rights campaigner Billie Jean King has described the refusal to grant Israeli player Shahar Peer an entry visa to Dubai as shameful.
The United Arab Emirates, which has no diplomatic links with Israel, denied the world number 45 a visa, preventing her from competing in this week's Dubai Championships. The decision has prompted widespread criticism from players and officials.
"The United Arab Emirates' refusal to grant a visa to Shahar Peer and preventing her from competing at this week's Sony Ericsson WTA Tour in Dubai is shameful and definitely a step backwards," King said in a statement.
"In the 21st century there is no reason a person should be restricted from doing his or her job because of their nationality, creed, race, gender or sexual orientation."
The refusal to issue Peer a visa violates WTA Tour rules, which state any player should be able to compete where she wishes if she has the required ranking.
American King, 65, who won 39 grand slam singles, doubles and mixed doubles tennis titles during her career, founded the WTA in 1973 and has been an ardent campaigner for equality in sport.
"Given the progress we have made in providing equal rights and opportunities for all, I trust the WTA Tour will look closely at the events in Dubai and take every step possible to ensure this type of distraction never happens again," she said.
The political row is expected to rumble on because Israeli doubles player Andy Ram is in the field for the men's tournament in Dubai next week.
(Editing by John Mehaffey)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this