Ons Jabeur becomes first african to reach wimbledon semifinal
Exactly one year after experiencing heartbreak in her first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon, Ons Jabeur found redemption as she claimed her “revenge” against 2022 champion Elena Rybakina in the quarterfinals of the prestigious tournament.
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Ons Jabeur, the sixth seed, demonstrated her resilience by bouncing back from a set down to triumph over Rybakina with a final score of 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-1 at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in South London on Wednesday. Overcoming significant setbacks such as major losses and a knee injury that required surgery, the determined Tunisian was driven by her unwavering determination to make the most of her status as a crowd favorite, propelling her to a commanding victory in the decisive final set.
Reflecting on her emotions during the match, Jabeur humorously stated, “I am going to end up writing a book on my emotions.” The 28-year-old acknowledged that the crowd’s fervent support and the energy surrounding her played a crucial role in her perseverance, despite losing the opening set.
The electrifying atmosphere at the centre court, which was nearly filled to its 15,000-spectator capacity, reverberated with chants of “come on Ons” and “allez Ons” during breaks in play. Third-seeded defending champion Rybakina matched Jabeur’s intensity with powerful serves and aggressive returns, resulting in a closely contested opening set.
However, it was Rybakina who capitalized on Jabeur’s mistakes, securing the first set in a tie-breaker. Frustrated with her wide returns, Jabeur reproached herself and her team. However, she quickly regrouped and matched Rybakina’s power game with thunderous returns of her own in the second set. Displaying her trademark variety of funky slices and drop shots, Jabeur broke her Kazakh opponent’s serve, clinching the set to the delight of the partisan crowd.
Following the match, Ons Jabeur admitted that she had avoided watching last year’s final as it remained “too painful” for her. Nonetheless, her performance on the court contradicted her statement, as she exhibited complete control over the game, preventing the defending champion from finding a foothold in the final set.
“I kept going for my shots, and although I wish I could have exchanged this match with last year’s final, I feel like I am more in control now,” Ons Jabeur shared in her post-match comments. Her next challenge in the semifinals will be Belarusian powerhouse Aryna Sabalenka, who is now considered a frontrunner to win the tournament after defeating Madison Keys from the United States in straight sets.
Despite the shorter rest period between matches, Ons Jabeur expressed her hope that her longer quarterfinal match will not hinder her pursuit of her ultimate “dream” of winning Wimbledon. She acknowledged the excitement and joy her success has brought to Tunisia, stating, “I have received so many messages as the tournament has progressed. I really hope I can go all the way and make Tunisia and Africa proud.”
For now, the passionate Tunisian must find a way to thwart the hard-hitting baseline prowess of Aryna Sabalenka, as she seeks a second chance to claim her first-ever Grand Slam victory.