By Pritha Sarkar LONDON (Reuters) – She is known as the “Minister of Happiness” back home in Tunisia and Ons Jabeur is hoping she can live up to that moniker by becoming the first African woman to win a Grand Slam singles title — and where better to achieve that feat than Wimbledon. “It would […]
Tennis-‘Minister of Happiness’ Jabeur addicted to setting records
By Pritha Sarkar
LONDON (Reuters) – She is known as the “Minister of Happiness” back home in Tunisia and Ons Jabeur is hoping she can live up to that moniker by becoming the first African woman to win a Grand Slam singles title — and where better to achieve that feat than Wimbledon.
“It would mean a lot for me, for my family, for my country, just to keep proving … that nothing is impossible and if you put your mind (to it), you can achieve it,” Jabeur, who is playing at the grasscourt major at a career-high second in the rankings, told reporters after reaching the last 16.
“Everybody is following me, expecting me to do better and better. I hope I continue being that person that gives them what they’re expecting. I’m just trying my best to break records, to really open the path for the next generation.”
Aged 27, Jabeur has embraced the role of being a trailblazer.
She became the first Arab woman to win a WTA title when she triumphed in Birmingham in 2021.
She followed that up by becoming the first African and Arab player to win a 1000 event, which is the tier below the slams, in Madrid this year.
And when she climbed to second in the standings on Monday, she became the highest-ranked African and Arab tennis player in history.
Jabeur said the Birmingham breakthrough gave her real self-belief.
“That title opened a great path for me. I was waiting for that one for a long time. I knew I could always play good on grass – any other surface. Just like the wait was over,” said the third seed after setting up a fourth-round showdown with Belgian Elise Mertens.
“I wanted to be a top-10 player, then I achieved that. I wanted to win more titles, and it’s still coming.”
While there is no doubt her list of firsts will keep growing, Jabeur believes none of this would have been possible if she had not had teamed up with her coach Issam Jellali.
“Believing in my game was little bit tough at the beginning because I couldn’t find the coach that could push me to believing more in my game,” she said.
“Always is something wrong, they don’t want me to do this
or that. Then I surrounded myself with great people, a coach who
always believed in me… you keep failing, then you rise at some point.”
(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ed Osmond)