NEW YORK (JTA) — Tennis star Venus Williams received an award from the Anti-Defamation League for opposing the exclusion from play of an Israeli tennis player.
Williams was presented with ADL’s Americanism Award on Tuesday for speaking out against a move in February to exclude Israeli tennis player Shahar Pe’er from a tournament in Dubai. The United Arab Emirates had refused to issue a visa to Pe’er, Israel’s top female tennis player, preventing her from taking part in the Dubai Tennis Championship.
Williams publicly decried the move and called for fair treatment of players.
“What Venus Williams did in Dubai must be acknowledged and celebrated,” Abraham Foxman, ADL’s national director, said at the award presentation in New York. “When Shahar Pe’er was denied a visa to compete in the tournament, Venus knew that it was wrong and she knew that someone had to say so. And she did.”
After receiving the award, Williams said she strongly believes in equality among tennis players and that she did not think UAE officials would deny Pe’er a visa next time.
“I feel like I did the minimum, just to speak and to say something,” Williams said. “It shows that whatever little things you can do to make a difference really will help. I want to thank Shahar for her courage, and I share this award with her.”