19 Feb 2009

King slams UAE decision to prevent Israeli from playing tennis

6:48 pm on 19 February 2009

The 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.

King says 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.

King, 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.

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.