"It's a dream coming true from years and years of sacrifice," Ons Jabeur smilingly said after her semifinal win over a dear friend and opponent Tatiana Maria. She was propelled into the Wimbledon Championship final feeling accomplished as being the first Arab/African to compete in this prestigious grass tournament.
But her talents and skills were again tested when she would meet her finalist opponent Elena Rybakina. They had met each other three times in their careers. In 2019 at the Wuhan Open, Rybakina won over Jabeur. But it was last year in Dubai and the Chicago Fall Classic that the no.
2 ranked Tunisian defeated Rybakina. It was on paper that the final favorite would be Ons Jabeur. It looked like it was going in a positive direction as she proved her aggressiveness by winning the opening set 6-2. Jabeur pulled out all her talents in the first set by finding the wide open court for winners, drop shotting Rybakina and painting the lines to get the advantage for the first set win.
Ons knew her reputation of winning the opener then losing the second. She'd said "I told myself, don't lose the 2nd set." But Elena Rybakina would not be denied for long and she would fight to level off the sets with all she had.
"She dug her heels into the grass and she just fought," Tennis Commentator and former player Chris Evert had commented. Rybakina corrected errors she previously made. She was more aggressive. "She put a lot of pressure on me that I didn't find the solution for," Ons had said.
She executed and perfected her shotmaking as Jabeur started picking up unforced errors in drop shots and double faults. Rybakina came through with a 6-2 second set win and kept her courage and great strategies against theTunisian.
"She really does good. I was expecting to do better," Jabeur later said at her press conference. Elena learned after losing the first set and admitted telling herself "It was time now to find my game." She did more than find it but fine-tuned it with both manner and shot performance.
"I'm trying to inspire the generations from my country," Ons would say. But despite the result, she did inspire everyone from Tunisia. The second set she appeared to have picked up her game but then it started to fizzle as Rybakina started making less errors and more winners.
Elena only allowed Jabeur two games then purely dominated and ran away with the set, match and championship 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. Rybakina gave Ons praise saying "..You have an amazing game. It's an honor to be here," she said smilingly at the trophy presentation.
Both players walked off gathering lessons that will take them into their next WTA tournament. Rybakina congratulated Jabeur on being in the final and said that "It was a joy to play against yo and I learned so much today."
Ons Jabeur had been there and done much of that with elevating her rankings through to being number 2 in the world. "..I'm just gonna keep my head high," she said with a big smile. The biggest revelation came from the finalist herself Ons Jabeur who got real and said "Tennis is just a sport for me. The most important thing is, I feel good about myself."