Ram Erlich hug 88.
(photo credit: )
Andy Ram returned to Israel on Thursday afternoon and claimed that sports as a whole was the winner from his historic appearance in Dubai.
Ram, who lost his first round doubles match with Zimbabwe's Kevin Ullyett on Wednesday, believes that the Arab country's reluctant decision to grant him a visa to play in the Dubai Tennis Championships has broken down barriers.
"I may have lost my match, but sports won," the ever-beaming Ram said upon his arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport.
"It was a win-win situation. This is a huge achievement not just for tennis, but for sports as a whole. This has opened the door for the future. As soon as the Dubai organizers agreed to accept me the barriers were broken down.
"There will never be another case like Shahar Pe'er's. From now on any athlete will be able to compete wherever he or she chooses."
Ram was granted special permission late last week to play in Dubai after Pe'er was barred from entering the country for her tournament, with organizers citing security concerns, prompting widespread protests and pressure to allow Ram to compete.
"It was an amazing experience, which I won't forget for the rest of my life," said Ram, who will train with Israel's Davis Cup team in the coming week ahead of next weekend's World Group first round tie at Sweden.
"From the moment I landed I was escorted by four bodyguards. I had a motorcade and I felt like the Prime Minister. Next year I plan to play in Dubai with Yoni Erlich."
Ram didn't have a bad word to say about his time in the United Arab Emirates, but was extremely upset with the fact that Israel's David Cup match against Sweden in Malmo will be played in front of empty stands.
"It's a disgrace that a country like Sweden can't secure 3,000 fans in a tennis stadium," Ram said. "This infuriates me. I think is hurts sports and will allow others in the future to say that they can't secure an Israel national team.
"I hope the decision will be changed, but regardless we will go there an do our best to return with the win."