Defeated in the final at Wimbledon, it’s only a postponement for Ons Jabeur


Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press

LONDON — Ons Jabeur showed off her cell phone so everyone could see her screensaver photo of the Venus Rosewater platter, the trophy given to the Wimbledon women’s champion.

“I’ve done everything since the start of the year,” Jabeur said, “to really focus on this tournament. (…) But destiny decided otherwise. »

And then, with a hint of humor at the end of a disappointing day, she joked that maybe she should have opted for a photo of the plaque awarded to the finalist.

With the possibility of becoming the first African or Arab woman to win a major tennis tournament in the professional era, second-seeded Jabeur could not complete the job on Saturday. She let slip a lead and lost the final at the All England Club to 23rd-placed Elena Rybakina, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

« I know I’m going to come back and win a Grand Slam for sure, » said Jabeur, a 27-year-old Tunisian. It’s tennis, and it’s part of it. I definitely have to learn from this.”

Jabeur entered the day on a 12-game winning streak, all on grass. She had won 22 of her previous 24 matches.

Then came what was a terrific start for her on sunny center court.

« Maybe in the first set I was too nervous, » Rybakina said. Of course, Ons played well. I needed time to adapt to his game.

Jabeur read Rybakina’s fast serves early on and broke to lead 2-1, then turned to face her guest box, jumped up and shouted in celebration. Jabeur raised his fist after taking the first set. She kicked a tennis ball, soccer style, after a point. She shouted “Yalla! – « Go ahead! » in Arabic — after another.

« I’m really happy to try to inspire several generations in my country, » continued Jabeur, who noted that Saturday was Eid al-Adha, one of the biggest holidays in Islam. I hope they listen. »

Jabeur is usually not one to hide his excitement or his joy, with or without a racket in hand, emblematic of a personality that has earned him the nickname « Minister of Happiness ».

She therefore chose to focus on the positive side of the last two weeks rather than how the fortnight ended, with a multitude of unforced errors in the last two sets and an inability to stand in the way of the power of Rybakina.

« I was almost there, the last step, » said Jabeur, who collapsed in his chair immediately after the end of the game. I am really a positive person. (…) It will certainly give me a lot of confidence.”

Now she looks forward to being celebrated at home in Tunisia before hitting the road again for the North American cement circuit, which culminates in the US Open, the final Grand Slam tournament of the year. The action will begin on August 29 in New York.

What about the photo on his cell phone?

The plan was to go back to a photo of his niece that was there before.

Now, Jabeur concluded, she will consider installing a picture of the United States Open there.

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