Twenty-nine-year-old Shahar Peer, the most successful WTA player from Israel, today officially ended her tennis career and I decided to share with you these lovely childhood photos of the Jerusalem-born star, to be added in my Little Tennis Stars series.
Shahar was only a six-year-old kid with wild blond curves when she started playing tennis, joining her brother Shlomi and sister Shani on the courts. About eleven years later, Shahar turned pro and now at the moment of her retirement, the Israeli can be proud of five WTA singles titles, three doubles titles and two Grand Slam quarterfinals in 2007. Her highest singles ranking was No.11 and No.14 in doubles.
Due to a chronic inflammation in her shoulder that troubled her for over two years and made her lose desire to play, Peer made the hard decision to part with the sport. Peer’s last match was a first-round defeat in the qualifying of the Abierto Monterrey in February 2016, when she lost to Viktorija Golubic in straight sets.
Peer received a number of recognitions during her career: Athlete of the Year in Israel (2006, 2007); Kids’ Favorite Athlete of the Year in Israel (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009); Woman of the Year in Press (2009); and Key Person in Media at ceremony of Israeli Organization of Public Relations and Spokespeople. Moreover, Peer led 10,000 students and officials in the March of the Living in 2010, paying tribute to the victims of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Peer was also the first Israeli to compete in a WTA tournament in the Arabian Peninsula when she reached the third round of the 2008 Qatar Total Open in Doha. After a scandal of not getting a visa for the United Arab Emirates in 2009, in 2010 Peer played the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, but she was completely isolated from other players off the court, had to train in a separate gym, and had serious security on her way from the hotel to the tournament venue. Despite the overwhelming stress, Peer progressed all the way to the semifinals in Dubai that year, with victories over top seed Caroline Wozniacki and eighth seed Li Na, eventually losing to third seed Venus Williams.
I’m wishing Shahar an enjoyable and fulfilled life away from professional tennis!