Wimbledon 2022: Ons Jabeur becomes first African woman to reach Grand Slam final

The Tunisian professional tennis player, Ons Jabeur became the first African woman in the Open era to reach a Grand Slam singles final on Thursday after defeating close friend Tatjana Maria at Wimbledon.

The 27-year-old world number two from Tunisia triumphed 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 and will face Elena Rybakina in Saturday’s championship final match.

Jabeur is the current No. 1 Tunisian player, and the highest-ranked African and Arab tennis player in ATP and WTA rankings history.

She has won three singles titles on the WTA Tour plus 11 singles titles and one doubles title on the ITF Women’s Circuit.

Jabeur was first introduced to tennis at age three by her mother. She reached two junior major girls’ singles finals at the French Open in 2010 and 2011, winning the latter and becoming the first Arab to win a junior major since 1964.

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After nearly a decade playing primarily at the ITF level, Jabeur started competing more regularly on the WTA Tour beginning in 2017.

She won the Arab Woman of the Year Award in 2019. At the 2020 Australian Open, Jabeur became the first Arab woman to reach a major quarterfinal, a feat repeated at the 2021 Wimbledon Championships.

She became the first Arab woman to win a WTA Tour title at the 2021 Birmingham Classic.

Jabeur won her biggest title to date at the 2022 Madrid Open, a WTA 1000 event, becoming the first African and Arab player to win at this level, and reached her maiden major final at the 2022 Wimbledon Championships.

 

“I’m a proud Tunisian woman standing here,” said Jabeur, who was the first Arab player to make a Slam semi-final.

“It’s a dream come true from years of work and sacrifice. I’m happy that’s paid off and I’ll continue for one more match,” said Jabeur.

“Physically, Tatjana is a beast, she doesn’t give up, I thought she would give up — her touch, her serve and everything on the court is impressive. I hope she continues this way. Let’s not play again I’m good for now.

“I know in Tunisia they are going crazy right now. I want to see more Arab and African players on the tour. I love the game and I want to share the experience with them.”

Jabeur won the first set against Maria, a mother-of-two, by breaking her in both the third and seventh games.

Despite not facing a single break point, the Tunisian scored 15 winners to her opponent’s six in the first set.

Nevertheless, Maria, described by Jabeur as her “barbecue buddy”, finally broke through for 3-1 in the second set.

Jabeur’s 17 unforced errors in the second set compared to the six of the more accurate German, who levelled the contest.

But there was to be no upset win as the 103rd-ranked Maria’s challenge was quashed.

Jabeur secured a double break for a 5-0 advantage before securing her place in history on a second match point.

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