Ons Jabeur: Morocco's historic World Cup run 'an inspiration for all of us'

Tunisian tennis star knows a few things about creating sporting history for Africa and the Arab region

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Tunisian tennis star Ons Jabeur has said Morocco's historic achievements at the 2022 World Cup should serve as an "inspiration" for Africa and the Arab world and provides proof that "nothing is impossible".

Morocco made history as the first African team to reach the World Cup semi-finals, with the Atlas Lions defeating a string of European heavyweights en route to the last four. After beating Belgium in the group stages, Morocco eliminated Spain on penalties in the first knockout round, before defeating Portugal 1-0 in the quarter-finals.

Morocco's historic run in Qatar came to an end on Wednesday night with a 2-0 defeat to World Cup holders France but Walid Regragui's team can exit the tournament with their heads held high having galvanised the support of the entire Mena region.

Jabeur, 28, knows better than most about being a trailblazing athlete from North Africa. The Tunisian world No 2 has captured a whole host of records throughout her career, becoming the highest-ranked African or Arab tennis player in history, the first to win a WTA Masters 1000 title, and the first to reach a Grand Slam final - which she achieved twice back-to-back at Wimbledon and the US Open this year.

"[Morocco] played really well and it was an inspiration for all of us," Jabeur, a passionate football fan, told reporters at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship media day on Thursday. "I will not be surprised that one day an African country will win the World Cup. I’ve always believed that. I just love the Moroccan spirit and hopefully other countries will follow that path, because honestly nothing is impossible.”

Jabeur returns to the tennis court on Friday evening when she takes on former US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the one-off women's match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi.

Updated: December 15, 2022, 3:10 PM