The World Tennis Association had a great opportunity to take a stand on the issue of bigotry and discrimination against one of their own. The Israeli tennis professional Shahar Peer was denied a visa to enter Dubai to play in a WTA tennis tournament. Shahar is currently ranked at number 45 in the world (she was once in the top 20) and had earned the right to play in the event.
This was the moment for the WTA to stand up and be counted. The Wall Street Journal Europe, a sponsor of the tournament withdrew its sponsorship, the Tennis Channel decided not to broadcast the event. Both commendable and praiseworthy.
The response of Larry Scott of WTA was less so. The opportunity to take a stand was lost as Scott told the Dubai organizers they should not do it again or they will face losing the right to host the tournament. A fine was imposed against the organizers and the games went on. Regrettably the Williams sisters who could have made a powerful statement against the Dubai action by leading a boycott did not. Venus made a statement condemning the action but played in the tournament as did her sister. Sony Ericcson did not withdraw their sponsorship nor did Barclays.
To quote one commentator on the subject,” An opportunity to make a strong statement against bigotry was met with meaningless words rather than assertive action.” Let the WTA hang its head in shame!