*A semi-final match between Venus Williams and Israeli player Shahar Peer at the Dubai Open will have to be moved from center court to a distant location due to security fears related to Peer’s nationality.
The first Israeli ever to compete in the United Arab Emirates, Peer has been playing her matches on a low-profile court where security is more manageable.
Williams beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 6-4 to earn a bid against Peer in the semi-finals, which is usually played on center court. But because of the safety concerns related to overall Arab-Israeli tension, many of the 5,000 fans who pre-booked center court tickets in hopes of seeing the world’s best players will be unable to do so.
The Williams/Peer match will take place Friday on a faraway court out by the trees and the shops.
“I guess I just want what is best for everyone,” Williams told the AFP after admitting that it was a long time since she had been scheduled to play on such a minor court. “And if this is the best decision then I support it.”
Needless to say, Peer said she doesn’t care where she plays – as long as she’s playing.
“I’m the only player that hasn’t played on center court,” she said. “But whatever will be, will be. I’m not controlling it. I’m doing what I’ve been told, and wherever I need to play, I’ll play on.”