Protest target Peer says she's just a tennis player
By ROBERT LOWE | Wednesday, 07 January 2009
Israeli Shahar Peer, due to be the subject of a protest in Auckland on Thursday over the military conflict in Gaza, says she's just a tennis player trying to do her best on court.
Protest organiser John Minto, calling for an comprehensive boycott of Israel, said a letter had been written to Peer at the weekend asking her to withdraw from the ASB Classic.
Minto said the No 5 seed had not replied.
Asked if she had considered pulling out, Peer told journalists that there wasn't anything she could do about the politics of the situation in the Middle East.
"I have nothing to do with this," she said.
"I'm Shahar Peer. I came here to play tennis. I know I'm from Israel and I'm proud of my country and that [playing tennis] is what I'm doing to do tomorrow."
Peer, 21, said she was trying not to concentrate on what was happening in Gaza, but it wasn't easy.
Her own brother, who had completed his compulsory military service, had been called up as a reservist.
"Two days ago, I was crying a bit, actually more than a bit, so it was a hard time for me," she said.
"I hope as soon as possible it will end and we will all be happy, because no one wants to be in a war."
Peer, the world No 39, today advanced to the third round by beating Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-3 4-6 6-2.
She said she had never been targeted by protesters anywhere around the world before.
Last year, she became the first Israeli to play in Doha, in Qatar, and she said she got a warm reception and enjoyed her time there.
She joked that being singled out by protesters meant at least people were interested in her.
"It's their choice and they are choosing what they want to do," she said.
Having appeared in the Classic twice before, she was planning to return again next year because of the atmosphere provided by tournament director Brenda Perry and the many volunteers.
Perry said the WTA Tour had security requirements for all its tournaments, but security would be increased at Stanley St tomorrow.
She said there had been no problems so far this week.