Israelis You Should Know: Shahar Pe'er | IFCJ
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Israelis You Should Know: Shahar Pe'er

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Name: Shahar Pe'er

Age: 27

Known for: Pe'er is a professional Israeli tennis player.

About her: Shahar Pe'er was born in 1987 in Jerusalem. She began playing tennis when she was just 6 years old, and she won her first title when she was 12. In 2001, she became the youngest tennis player ever to win the Israeli women's tennis championship. 

Pe'er turned professional in 2004, and in 2006, she won her first three Women's Tennis Association (WTA) singles in Pattaya, Prague, and Istanbul. Her ranking continually increased until she reached number 14 in the world in May 2008. She represented Israel in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

In 2009, Pe'er was prepared to play in the Dubai Tennis Championships in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but she was denied a visa. Israel and the UAE do not have diplomatic relations, and the tournament director said Pe'er's visa was refused on the grounds that her appearance could incite anger among residents of the Arab country. Many tennis players - including Venus Williams and Andy Roddick - were upset by her visa rejection. Roddick withdrew from the tournament in support of Pe'er.

In 2010, she was granted a visa for the same tournament, but only under very strict conditions. She was not allowed to mix with other players off the court and she had to exercise in a separate gym. Pe'er was widely praised for keeping her composure under the circumstances, and many tennis players stood behind her. "I can't imagine playing so well with these kinds of circumstances. I just have to give her congratulations and props. She's courageous. I don't think anyone else on the WTA Tour could do what she's doing," Williams said during the tournament.

Pe'er has continued representing Israel at tennis tournaments around the world, including the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Today, she is widely regarded as the most successful Israeli female tennis player in history.

In her own words: "I guess I'm kind of an ambassador for Israel for some things. I'm proud of it. I'm very pro-Israel," she said during the 2014 U.S. Open.

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