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WTA slaps huge fine on Dubai event

THE Dubai Championships was fined a record US$300,000 by the governing body of women's tennis on Friday after top Israeli player Shahar Peer was barred from taking part in last week's event.

The WTA said in a statement the fine was the largest levied against a WTA Tour member and Peer would be awarded US$44,250 - the average prize money she earned per tournament in 2008.

"The actions taken today are intended to redress the wrongs suffered by Shahar Peer, who was victimized by an unjust policy of discrimination by the UAE," said WTA chief Larry Scott.

Peer had to forfeit her place at the lucrative US$2 million event after the United Arab Emirates, which has no diplomatic ties with Israel, denied her entry into the country.

Before the UAE changed its policy regarding Israeli athletes, pressure had been mounting for this week's ATP tournament to be cancelled in Dubai if Israeli doubles specialist Andy Ram was also blocked from competing. However, Ram was given "special permission" to compete on Thursday, ensuring the men's event will go ahead as planned.

On the court, Venus Williams defeated sister and world No. 1 Serena 6-1, 2-6, 7-6 (3) on Friday to reach the final. She next faces unseeded Virginie Razzano of France, who put out 16th seed Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 6-1, 6-2.


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