Ons Jabeur vows to win Grand Slam after Wimbledon final disappointment

Tunisian remains postive despite defeat against Rybakina at All England Club

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Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur has vowed “to come back and win a Grand Slam” after her defeat against Elena Rybakina at the All England Club on Saturday.

World No 2 Jabeur took early charge of the match on Centre Court but 17th seed Rybakina powered back to win 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

The defeated Tunisian admitted she had not played her best tennis in the second and third sets as the big-hitting Kazakh found her range.

“It is frustrating to play someone that serves really big and doesn't give you the chance sometimes to take that break,” she said.

“I just kept telling myself, like, 'this is not over, I trust you'. I even said, 'I love you' to myself during the match. It wasn't meant to be.”

Jabeur, the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam final, was attempting to become the first African woman to win a major.

But the 27-year-old, who had previously never gone beyond the quarter-finals at a Slam, said she would learn from her experience at Wimbledon.

“I don't disbelieve in myself and I know that I'm going to come back and win a Grand Slam, for sure,” she told reporters.

“This is tennis, and it's part of it. I have to learn from it, definitely. But I'm very, very positive about it.”

Ons Jabeur greets supporters with the runners-up trophy following defeat to Elena Rybakina. PA

The player, labelled by Tunisians as the “Minister of Happiness”, said she had given everything during her run at the All England Club.

“Of course, I will leave happy, with a smile, big smile always,” she said. “Tennis is just a sport for me. The most important thing is that I feel good about myself.”

A smiling Jabeur showed reporters she had a photo of the Venus Rosewater Dish – presented to the women's champion – on her phone

“I need to take it off,” she joked. “Apparently I should have put the other one.”

Jabeur said she hoped to inspire others to follow in her footsteps. “It's really amazing to see a lot of fans, not just from Tunisia but from the Arab world,” she said. “I just try to inspire as many generations as I can.

“It's very nice to play this final. I really cannot wait for more finals for me. I hope they're not really disappointed, but I'll try my best next time.”

Ons Jabeur's Tunisian supporters at the All England Club. PA

Jabeur's popularity in her home country will be reaching fever pitch levels after her efforts at Wimbledon.

At a cafe not far from the Hammam Sousse tennis club where the 27-year-old began her career, a group of young Tunisian men had been intently watching the match, yelling in excitement at each point she won.

“She's our Tunisian national product,” said Safwen Ghairi, a 21-year-old student told AFP.

He and his friends had rushed through their traditional Eid al-Adha meal to get to the cafe – one of the few open on the national holiday which began on Saturday – to watch the match.

Jabeur represents the African continent “and the region at Wimbledon”, Ghairi said. “It's a real achievement.”

His friend Zaher Edine Dahman, 27, called Jabeur “our ambassador of happiness”.

“The authorities could never match the publicity Ons Jabeur has brought for Tunisia, even if they spent millions,” he said.

“We used to dream of a Tunisian player simply qualifying for Wimbledon, and today, Tunisia is at the final,” he added.

Updated: July 09, 2022, 6:41 PM