US Open: USA's Venus Williams defeats Israel's Shahar Peer

It makes us proud to see Israel compete with honor on the world's stage in any capacity. (OK, it is even nicer if Israel wins.)

The Bergen Record has a fine story about the Williams v. Peer match yesterday that also goes into the relationship between Venus and Shahar as two outstanding sports professionals.
Venus Williams reaches 10th US Open quarterfinal

NEW YORK – Venus Williams, the only American woman left in the U.S. Open, had to work harder than most people expected over Labor Day weekend to stay in the tournament.

With injured sister Serena watching in the Arthur Ashe Stadium stands, third-seeded Venus Williams overcame an unspectacular serve and a sometimes spectacular opponent to reach the quarterfinals with a 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 victory over Israeli Shahar Peer on Sunday afternoon.

“It’s always good to have a tough match, or tougher match, the kind of a match where you have to challenge yourself against your opponent and the conditions and just continue to stay tough and to stay positive,” Williams said. “I was happy to do that.”

Williams had five double-faults and was broken three times by the 14th-seeded Peer.

In the 12th game of the first set, Peer faced triple-set point. She saved all three and five total in the scintillating 22-point, eight-deuce game that ended with a Peer forehand winner down the line that forced the tiebreaker.

But Williams dominated the tiebreaker and the second set. Overall, the seven-time Slam champ, who missed nearly two months with a left knee injury, felt good about her performance.

This is Williams’ first tournament since Wimbledon and she hasn’t dropped a set in reaching her 10th U.S. Open quarterfinal. Williams must defeat No. 6 seed and reigning French Open champ Francesca Schiavone, a straight-set winner over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, to reach her eighth semifinal here.

“When the tournament started, I was a little uncertain on how I would hit the ball in a match,” Williams said. “It’s just very exciting to be here and hitting well and getting the games on my side.”

It also was a meaningful win for Williams because of her history with Peer that goes beyond their six head-to-head matches – all won by Venus.

Last year, Peer was prevented from playing at Dubai because United Arab Emirates denied her visa. Williams was incensed and voiced her displeasure. In addition, Andy Roddick refused to defend his title at Dubai in protest.

Peer was granted a visa in February, but placed under strict restrictions. She wasn’t allowed near the main courts and had to work out in a different gym than other players. Williams beat Peer in the Dubai semifinals – in a distant outside court — and continued to speak out in support of her opponent.

“She was really supportive of me and was also always on my side and always stood up and spoke for me,” Peer said. “When we did play over there and we played on an outside court she was very humble. She understands what I feel.”

Williams tried to downplay what she did, saying anyone would have done it. But Peer said Williams was one of the only players to speak out on her behalf.

“I respect her as a player,” Williams said. “I know she would have done the same thing for me or any other player.

“I think just because of my history, too, as the African-American. My parents both came from the South in the ’40s and ’50s, and it was an outrage really, like, ‘Are you serious? Can you really exclude someone?’

“This is professional tennis in 2010. We’re all athletes here. We’re not politicians or anything like that. The feeling inside of me was just one of almost rage and discontent.

“As professional athletes, in a way we’re ambassadors almost for peace, because sports brings everyone together. It was really a disappointment not to have an opportunity to do that. It was good that she was able to this year.”

Williams won at Dubai and hopes to do the same here, where she hasn’t lifted the winner’s trophy since 2001.

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