With Serena out, Pe’er earns trip to WTA Championships

World No. 13 to play in prestigious Qatar tournament as alternate.

311_Shahar Peer closeup (photo credit: Associated Press)
311_Shahar Peer closeup
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Shahar Pe’er will travel to the prestigious WTA Championship in Doha next week as an alternate, receiving the official invitation on Wednesday after Serena Williams announced that she will not play again this year.
The 23-year-old Israeli currently holds a career-high ranking of No. 13 in the world, while also placing 13th in the race to make the WTA Championships.
Only the top eight players of the year and two alternates are supposed to participate in the $4,550,000 season-ending event, but with both Williams sisters and Justine Henin declaring they are out for the season, Pe’er was given the call-up to Qatar as one of the two stand-ins.
“I’m very happy to be going to Doha,” said Pe’er, who will only play if two more players pull out, but will receive $50,000 regardless.
“This is a great honor for me and the result of an excellent and healthy year.”
In a statement e-mailed to the AP by her agent, the younger Williams said Tuesday she “re-tore the tendon” in her right foot, which she originally injured by cutting it on glass at a restaurant shortly after winning Wimbledon in July. Williams had surgery in New York on Monday; she first had the foot repaired July 15.
Her announcement comes less than two weeks after Venus Williams said she won’t play for the rest of the year because of a lingering injury to her left knee. Both sisters will miss the WTA Championships and the Fed Cup final between the United States and Italy next month at San Diego.
“Serena Williams is one of the great champions of all time, and she will be missed by her many fans at the year end WTA Championships,” WTA CEO Stacey Allaster said. “We wish her a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing her back at full strength for the 2011 season.”
Serena hasn’t played on tour since July 3, when she overwhelmed Vera Zvonareva 6-3, 6- 2 to win her fourth Wimbledon championship and 13th Grand Slam singles title overall, most among active women.
The American cut her right foot on glass at a restaurant while she was in Munich after her victory at the All England Club, but she went ahead and played in an exhibition match July 8 in Brussels against Kim Clijsters that drew a tennis-record crowd of more than 35,000. A week later, Serena had an operation on the foot in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, the International Tennis Federation announced on Wednesday that the Europe/Africa Zone Group I will be played in Eilat next February.
Besides Israel, 15 other teams will be coming to the south of Israel between February 2-6 to fight for a place in the World Group II playoffs, including Caroline Wozniacki’s Denmark and Victoria Azarenka’s Belarus.