Shahar Peer from Israel is one of the most amazing players on the WTA Tour. Despite setbacks that would have made many lesser players give up the game she has persevered in a calm and cool manner and has been rewarded with her highest ever World Ranking, Number 12.
|Height:||5 ft 7 1/2 in (1.71 m)|
Born in Jerusalem on May 1st, 1987 she began playing at the age of 6-years-old when she joined her brother Shlomi and her sister Shani for tennis lessons.
When she was 19 she had to join the Israeli Military as it is mandatory in Israel and she excelled in rifle marksmanship during her elementary combat training.
She was permitted to travel to tournaments and when she was not competing she spent her mornings working as an administrative secretary for the Military in the mornings and practicing tennis in the afternoons.
In February 2009 she was caught up in a controversy that hit the headlines all over the world. She was unable to compete in the Dubai Championships after the United Arab Emirates refused to grant her a Visa because they do not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
A number of the players, including Venus Williams, condemned the rejection of the Visa and WTA Chief Larry Scott considered canceling the tournament but Peer persuaded him not to. Tournament Director Salah Tahlak said Peer was refused a Visa because her appearance could incite anger in an Arab country.
The WTA said it would review future tournaments in Dubai and their action caused the Tennis Channel to decide not to televise the event. The Wall Street Journal also dropped their sponsorship and 2008 winner Andy Roddick chose not to defend his title due to the refusal of the Visa.
The United Arab Emirates decided to grant Peer a Visa for the 2010 Championships but she was placed under strict restrictions. She was not allowed to mix with the other players off the court, had to exercise in a separate gym, and was under strict guard on her way from her hotel to the courts.
There was added pressure because the 2010 tournament clashed with the Dubai authorities investigating the assassination of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh which they blamed on Israeli agents posing as European nationals.
Peer was praised by all her fellow competitors for keeping her composure during the tournament, and Venus Williams said she could not imagine anyone else on the WTA tour being able to do it.
Peer had shown great promise as a junior. At the age of 12, she won the Eddie Herr International Doubles titles with Nicole Vaidisova and she also reached the singles final. In the Autumn of 2001, she took first place in the Nike Junior Tour International Masters Tournament in the Bahamas and she also became the youngest player ever to win the Israeli Women’s Tennis Championships. She also won the 55th annual Ericsson Orange Bowl International Under 14 Girls title without dropping a set.
Peer turned professional in 2004 and played both on the ITF Circuit and the WTA Tour. In 2005 she played in her first Grand Slam event reaching the 3rd round of both the French Open and the US Open and the US Open finishing the year ranked 45 in the world.
In 2011 Shahar Peer reached the last 16 of both the Brisbane International and the Medibank International in Sydney. At the Australian Open, she reached the 3rd round before losing to Flavia Pennetta in three sets.