Israel's Shahar Peer gets written guarantee to enter Dubai tourney
Peer was denied entry into the UAE last year, apparently because of anti-Israel sentiments.
The WTA has received written assurances from the United Arab Emirates that Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer will be allowed to play at a tournament in Dubai next month.
Peer was denied entry into the UAE last year, apparently because of anti-Israel sentiments in the Gulf state following a three-week war between Israel and Islamic militants in Gaza.
The Dubai Tennis Championships was fined $300,000 for denying the visa.
This year's tournament starts on Feb. 15.
WTA spokeswoman Katie Scott says the tour has received written confirmation from the UAE Ministry of Interior that she will be able to enter and participate in the event without incident.
Meanwhile, an outburst by a group of pro-Palestinian activists on Wednesday disrupted Peer's match at a New Zealand tennis tournament against Magdalena Rybarikova.
The group of about 10 activists protested Peer's participation in the tournament as well as Israel's policies in the Palestinian territories, shouting "Go home," "Free Palestine" and "You have blood on your hands."
One of the small group of people, who are protesting against Israel's treatment of Palestinians and have called on Peer to withdraw from the event, was arrested, local media reported.
The 22-year-old Peer was the subject of similar protests outside the Auckland Tennis Center last year and on Tuesday.
"I think it was really bad, yesterday was a bit better," Peer told reporters. "Today was much more louder.
"I guess those people know exactly where to stand so that we can hear them well and it was continual, it didn't stop."
Officials stopped the match after Peer took the first set and discussed for 15 minutes whether or not to continue.
Peer was adamant she wanted to keep playing and subsequently ran out an easy winner as a visibly distracted Rybarikova's resistance collapsed.
"It did encourage me," Peer added. "Like yesterday, when I was hearing that [protests], it made me play better to prove I can also play with the noise.
"They're doing what they want. Everyone can do whatever they want, as long as I'm winning I don't care."
Rybarikova admitted the protests had affected her.
"I have to say it was tough to play during the protest," she said. "I lost the first set because I was not concentrating. I was thinking about that and not my tennis."
Peer will now meet Maria Kirilenko in Thursday's quarter-finals on center court after the Russian beat Estonia's Kaia Kanepi 6-2 6-3.
Top seeded Italian Flavia Pennetta, who was first up on center court on Wednesday, also advanced to the last eight with a 6-2 6-2 victory over Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro and will meet Dominika Cibulkova
The Slovak upset seventh seeded Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai 6-3 6-4.