Rising tennis star Ons Jabeur eyes US Open following historic Wimbledon run, talks Serena Willliams’ impact
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Top-ranked tennis player Ons Jabeur made history this summer when she became the first Arab woman and first African woman to reach a Grand Slam final.
But the 2022 Wimbledon runner-up has her eyes set on achieving more when she returns to New York this month for the U.S. Open.
Jabeur, 27, told Fox News Digital in an interview this week that her recent success on the tour has been a “great process” in the making that reached a turning point with a promise to herself after a heartbreaking exit at Wimbledon in 2021.
“Last year, when I made the quarterfinals, I made a big promise to myself that I want to come back and win that tournament. So it's been, you know, great just being in the finals,” Jabeur said. “Obviously, I wished for the bigger title but, you know, it's part of the great process. And I feel like we're getting there, to get the title maybe next time.”
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Elena Rybakina broke Jabeur’s 12-match winning streak in the final, beating her in three sets, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. But, with history on the line, Jabeur received an overwhelming amount of support from the crowd.
“I mean, of course the pressure is always there. But, you know, I really appreciate it. This is part of the reason why I play tennis. I kind of signed up for this,” she told Fox News Digital of the crowds that gathered at The All England Club for her appearance in the finals.
“It's not easy to play. Tennis is not easy to have that kind of pressure every day. But, you know, it's part of the process, I feel. But I'm trying to learn every day how to handle it better and better. And at Wimbledon it was really amazing because, through the whole two weeks, I had the crowd cheering for me, especially the Tunisian ones that were always there. And, for me, I had to even push myself more for them.”
Jabeur, from Tunisia, has had two quarterfinal appearances at a Grand Slam and one finals appearance with her match at Wimbledon, but she’s hoping to continue her success when she takes the court next week in the U.S. Open.
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“This year, I'm going to be harder on myself,” she said after dropping in the round of 32 the last three years. “I want to go past the third round. It's a great result but not for me this year. Hopefully, we'll do better.
“I've been working so hard to achieve more and more. And, for me, I feel like being in the second week at the U.S. Open is the least thing I can do. So, I'm just going to take it step by step and see how it goes.”
Jabeur reached her highest ranking (No. 2) at Wimbledon and enters the U.S. Open as the fifth-ranked pro on the tour.
“Years ago, I started knowing myself better on and off the court, improving, believing more and more in myself was very, very important,” she told Fox News of her progression. “My fitness I improved also a lot. That helped me complete the style of my game.
“Also, I think since 2020, when the quarterfinals of the Australian Open happened, it just gave me more confidence to be one of the greatest players and also believe more that I can be, you know, a top 10, top five player.”
Another advantage Jabeur will have going into the U.S. Open is having had the opportunity to play alongside 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams when they made their debut as doubles partners at the Eastbourne International in June.
“I'm very lucky that she picked me to play doubles with her. Eastbourne is one of the experiences that I loved and will cherish for the rest of my life,” Jabeur said.
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“I mean, she's someone that knows what to do on the court. Like, literally, you can see the big difference between her and other players. Like if she puts her mind on something, she will do it. And I've learned a lot from her playing doubles.
“Honestly, it's just amazing to see how she thinks on the court.”
The duo advanced to the semifinals but was forced to withdraw after Jabeur cited a knee injury. Not long after, Williams announced to the world that she would soon be retiring.
“The news, it was kind of expected, but it's always sad to kind of face the reality that some day Serena Williams will retire,” Jabeur told Fox News. “I personally didn't want to see it because we are used to seeing her on tour, and it's really amazing to have her. But, I mean, hopefully she doesn't disappear from the tennis world. Hopefully we can always see her.
“She did a lot for women's tennis. She showed us that nothing is impossible.”
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Main draw play for the U.S. Open begins Monday. Jabeur will no doubt have the support of the crowd as a top-ranked player, but she’ll also be backed by Lotto Sport Italia, an Italian sportswear brand for which she serves as a brand ambassador.
“Lotto is like a family to me, we've been together for years now. They were one of the few clothing companies that believed in me. Actually, maybe the only one,” she said with a laugh.
“I wasn't ranked in the top when we signed together, I was maybe in the 200, 300, and they gave me the opportunity and I appreciate that. I appreciate that they gave me a chance to prove myself … and show that I can be one of the greatest players. They believed in me. They supported me. And for me, I'll always be grateful for them.”