Ons Jabeur defeated close friend Tatjana Maria in the Wimbledon semifinals on Thursday, making history as the first Arab woman to compete in a Grand Slam singles final.
After winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-1, Tunisia’s world number two, 27, will play either Simona Halep or Elena Rybakina in the title match on Saturday.
Jabeur, the first Arab player to reach a Slam semifinal, said, “I’m a proud Tunisian woman standing here.”
Irene Bowder Peacock from South Africa and Renee Schuurman from Australia in 1959 were the only African women to have advanced to a Slam singles final before Thursday.
“It’s a dream come true from years of work and sacrifice. I’m happy that’s paid off and I’ll continue for one more match,” said Jabeur.
“Physically, Tatjana is a beast, she doesn’t give up, I thought she would give up — her touch, her serve and everything on the court is impressive. I hope she’s continues this way. Let’s not play again I’m good for now.
“I know in Tunisia they are going crazy right now. I want to see more Arab and African players on the tour. I love the game and I want to share the experience with them.”
With breaks in the third and seventh games, Jabeur easily defeated mother-of-two Maria in the first set. In the opening set, the Tunisian had 15 winners to her opponent’s six, and she did not encounter a single break point.
On the strength of a sequence of deft slices, Maria, who Jabeur referred to as her “barbecue buddy,” did manage to ultimately breakthrough for 3-1 in the second set.
The more precise German levelled the match with six unforced errors to Jabeur’s 17 in the second set.
However, there would be no unexpected victory when the 103rd-ranked Maria’s challenge was rejected. Jabeur earned a double break for a 5-0 lead before saving a second match point to go down in history.
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