Kim Clijsters offers Ons Jabeur advice after third grand slam final defeat

By Sports Desk July 16, 2023

Kim Clijsters has advised Ons Jabeur to “fake it until you make it” after another heartbreaking grand slam final defeat.

The popular Tunisian could not overcome her nerves in a 6-4 6-4 loss to Marketa Vondrousova that made it back-to-back Wimbledon final losses.

A US Open final defeat to Iga Swiatek was sandwiched in between and Jabeur now joins an unwanted club of players who have lost their first three grand slam finals.

Like Andy Murray, it took Belgian Clijsters five attempts before she finally won one, and she shared tears with Jabeur in the locker room

“Just watching her in her interview and seeing the emotions afterwards, it brings back a lot of memories and thoughts of how you go about it,” said Belgian Clijsters.

“There’s no secret, it’s just trying to give yourself the opportunity to get to that stage again. The unfortunate thing is you cannot practise these things, you cannot practise being in a grand slam final, you can only do it within the occasion.

“The biggest thing she has to maybe learn is to fake it, fake it until you make it. You could see it really clearly that the negative emotions were taking over.

“If she missed a shot, there was the natural kind of reaction that was negative. When she made a great point, there was nothing a lot of the time. That just showed the doubt was overpowering everything.”

Clijsters lost twice in French Open finals and once each at the Australian Open and US Open before her maiden success in New York in 2005.

“It’s tough,” said the 40-year-old, who went on to win four major titles. “But there shouldn’t be any question in her mind about whether she can do it or not. She can beat all these players, there’s no doubt about that.

“For me the most disappointing is not so much the loss, it’s the fact that you weren’t able to bring your best tennis to the biggest occasion, and that’s the most frustrating and that’s why you start to worry – why am I not able to do it? Why am I so overwhelmed with emotions on the big stage?

“But it does feel good eventually when you get it. It’s definitely a process. I just know looking back I wasn’t ready to win and I’m very happy I didn’t win my first.”

Jabeur was grateful for Clijsters’ support and is encouraged that many other players have been through similar adversity before eventually getting their hands on a winners’ trophy.

“I love Kim so much,” said Jabeur. “She’s a great inspiration for me. I grew up watching her a bit. The fact that she takes the time to give me advice and to really hug me, always be there for me, I think it’s priceless.

“She was telling me all the time she lost four. That’s the positive out of it. You cannot force things. It wasn’t meant to be.”

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