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Tunisia’s trailblazer Ons Jabeur takes Wimbledon by storm

16th Jul 2021
Tunisia’s trailblazer Ons Jabeur takes Wimbledon by storm

(Credit: Sirobi Tennis)

Nadine Osman

Tunisia’s rising star Ons Jabeur made history as the first Arab woman to compete in a Wimbledon quarter-final.

Despite her loss to Aryana Sabalenka, the 26-year-old has rallied support from Tunisians and Arabs worldwide.

The first in a string of history-making feats by Jabeur came on the clay courts of Roland-Garros when she became the first Arab to win a girls’ singles Grand Slam title back in 2011.

She is the highest-ranked Arab woman in history, the first woman from her region to make a Grand Slam quarter-final (Australian Open 2020), and is currently tied with world No.1 Ashleigh Barty for most match wins amassed this season (28).

Of all her accomplishments so far, Jabeur is most proud of her perseverance. “I don’t see it like titles for me, but I see the way I’m still pushing through,” she told WTA Insider after her triumph in Birmingham.

Jabeur has grown accustomed to the feeling of playing for something bigger than herself and admits the pressure can sometimes seem overwhelming.

“I think I have different pressure than other players since we don’t have a lot of Tunisian or a lot of Arab players. So I’m playing not just for me, but I’m playing for the whole continent,” she she explains.

Jabeur’s run in the All England Club ended following a loss to Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka in the Wimbledon quarter-finals under the Centre Court roof on July 6.

In a classic clash of styles, the 23-year-old Sabalenka had too many destructive weapons for Jabeur on July 6, claiming a 6-4 6-3 victory to set up a clash with fellow big-hitter Czech Karolina Pliskova in the semi-finals.

It was never completely comfortable and Jabeur, making history as the first Arab woman to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals, did produce flashes of the mercurial game that has made her a favourite with the crowds.

But Sabalenka was relentless and closed out the win with her 27th winner of a match played mainly on her terms.

Jabeur had beaten three Grand Slam champions – Venus Williams, Garbine Muguruza and Iga Swiatek – en route to the last eight and topped the list of match wins on tour this season with Sabalenka, both having 33 to their name.

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