Ons Jabeur, the Tunisian tennis sensation, is gearing up for the Wimbledon final on Saturday. Jabeur, determined to become the first African or Arab woman to win a Grand Slam singles title, is ready to take on Marketa Vondrousova from the Czech Republic. After a heartbreaking loss in last year’s final to Elena Rybakina, Jabeur is eager to claim victory this time.
Despite facing challenges, including a series of injuries, the 28-year-old Jabeur remains undeterred and continues to push the boundaries of her potential. As a national hero in Tunisia, she has had a challenging journey to reach the Wimbledon final. However, she enters the match as the favorite against the unseeded Vondrousova.
Jabeur’s path to the top of women’s tennis has been far from easy. Born in 1994 in Ksar Hellal, she began playing tennis at the age of three on the courts of Hammam Sousse’s hotel. At ten years old, Jabeur expressed her ambition to her mother, stating her dream of one day enjoying a coffee at Roland Garros, the home of the French Open. Remarkably, she fulfilled that dream. In 2011, at the age of 16, during the Tunisian “Arab Spring” revolution, Jabeur won the Roland Garros junior tournament.
According to Nabil Mlika, her first coach, Jabeur has always displayed a dynamic, friendly, and sociable nature, accompanied by a great sense of humor. Omar Laabidi, her hitting partner during her teenage years, noted her fighting spirit on and off the court, emphasizing her determination and resilience.
Jabeur’s ability to overcome adversity has been evident throughout her career. In 2020, she became the first player from the Arab world to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals. Last year, at Wimbledon, she reached the final, only to experience heartbreak. Jabeur consistently aims to make Tunisia proud, and following her victory in the semi-final, she emphasized her focus and determination to succeed.
Wimbledon has acknowledged Jabeur’s achievements by launching a Facebook page in Arabic, featuring quotes from the player and poetry celebrating the picturesque landscapes of Tunisia. In a BBC column last year, Jabeur expressed her fondness for Wimbledon, comparing it to a wedding and appreciating the tournament’s rich history and traditions.
In her hometown, Jabeur’s former playing partners, Mehdi Abid and Moez Bougatya, remember her as a young girl who preferred training with boys, dominating the local girls’ game. Jabeur proudly identifies herself as a “100 percent product of Tunisia,” and her success has elevated the status of tennis in a country previously dominated by football.
Although Jabeur also holds a deep love for football, her passion for tennis has become a powerful inspiration for aspiring young players across Tunisia, the Arab world, and Africa. She encourages others with her belief that achieving greatness in tennis is indeed possible.
Just three years ago, as an Australian Open quarter-finalist, Jabeur expressed confidence in her ability to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam tournament, or even win it. Now, as she prepares for the Wimbledon final, Jabeur, once nicknamed “Federer” at home due to her admiration for Roger Federer’s dropshots and backhands, is ready to seize her destiny.
As she approaches her momentous match, Jabeur exclaimed, “Yeah, I’m going full in, and hopefully this time it will work.”