Wimbledon: 'I'm a proud Tunisian woman standing here' – Jabeur makes African grand slam breakthrough

By Sports Desk July 07, 2022

Ons Jabeur was brimming with pride at becoming Africa's first grand slam women's singles finalist after sinking the Wimbledon title hopes of shock merchant Tatjana Maria.

Jabeur was determined to share the glory with Maria, hauling her close friend and "barbecue buddy" back into the middle of Centre Court for an ovation at the end of Thursday's semi-final battle.

The German mother-of-two's lifetime-best grand slam performance had included wins over seeds Sorana Cirstea, Maria Sakkari and Jelena Ostapenko, but the world number 103 fell in three sets to world number two Jabeur.

Jabeur has already made history but now has the title firmly in her sights ahead of Saturday's showpiece match.

"It's a dream coming true, from years and years of work and sacrifice," she said. "I'm really happy it's paying off, and I continue for one more match now. I'm a proud Tunisian woman standing here today, and I know in Tunisia they're going crazy right now."

The last African to win a grand slam of any sort was Cara Black of Zimbabwe at Wimbledon in 2010, when she and Leander Paes took the mixed doubles title.

Singles is where the spotlight typically falls in tennis, though, and Jabeur is one step away from glory. Only top-ranked Iga Swiatek, with 46 wins, has earned more match victories than Jabeur at WTA Tour level this season.

Taking this season and 2021 into account, Jabeur has more wins than anyone, her haul of 84 singles successes putting her two ahead of Swiatek.

Should the final go to a third and deciding set, Jabeur's record in tight matches could help. She has won 13 contests that have gone the distance this season, more than any other woman.

Maria made her work for the semi-final win, with Jabeur saying it was not so much the friendship that made the task so challenging.

"I think it was more difficult running for her balls," Jabeur said. "She killed me, and she has to make me a barbecue now to make up for all the running that I did on the court.

"I definitely wanted to share the moment with her at the end because she's such an inspiration for so many players, including me, coming back after having two babies, I still can't believe how she did it."

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