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Ons Jabeur is a much-loved figure by players and spectators alike. 

On court, the world number 9 plays a refreshing brand of tennis, using a lot of variety in her game from slice to drop shots, in stark contrast to the power hitting, baseline game that’s become the norm on the WTA tour.

It is this all-court game that’s proved consistent across all surfaces and won the hearts of fans the world over, with the Tunisian reaching 3 grand slam finals, including the last 2 Wimbledon finals in 2022 and 2023. 

Indeed, Jabeur’s game is akin to another great player that utilised a lot of variety to great success: our own Ash Barty. 

Unfortunately, unlike Barty, Jabeur has struggled mentally in the biggest moments of her career, losing all three of her grand slam final appearances (Barty seized her chances, finishing her career 3-0 in slam finals).

Off-court, the Tunisian has endeared herself to the public, involving herself in a number of global organisations and charity events. Notably, Jabeur is an executive committee member of the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA), the player association co-founded by Novak Djokovic, and this year, she became a global ambassador of the World Food Programme (WFP).

Jabeur is also an eloquently outspoken player, who is not afraid to voice her opinions in an intelligent and thoughtful manner.

Following a win in the group stages of the WTA Finals last year, Jabeur broke down with an impassioned plea regarding the war in Gaza, donating part of her prize money to the Palestinian people and stating “it’s not a political message, it’s a humanity message. I want peace in this world and that’s it.”

Earlier in the year, after her shock defeat to unseeded Czech, Markéta Vondroušová in the Wimbledon final, the 29-year-old spoke about the challenges of being a woman on tour, particularly the ever-present thought of motherhood. 

“That loss was very difficult because it was connected to me being a mother and having a family. So that was an extra sadness for me,” the Tunisian told the media.

While personal in nature, Jabeur’s recent documentary, This is Me, inadvertently delved into a deeper issue that many female athletes face: choosing between your career and if or when you want to have children. 

Prior to her defeat, Jabeur had envisioned herself winning the title before taking time away from the sport to have her first child with her physio husband, Karim Kamoun.

According to the documentary, the pair cried “like babies” after the final, a bitter pill to swallow with so much, admittedly self-induced, pressure riding on Jabeur’s shoulders.

With the tough admission that she's “maybe not ready to be a mum yet”, Jabeur took months to get over the Wimbledon final, describing it as the “most painful loss” of her career. 

Battling a lot of mental demons and struggling to string wins together as a result, a chronic knee injury resurfaced to exacerbate her poor run of form at the back end of the 2023 season. 

Despite these setbacks, Jabeur continues to remain optimistic, which she attributes to accepting that “difficult times exist,” taking her losses with pride and turning negative thoughts into positive ones.

“If you go through this you become stronger, you become more patient.”

So, can Ons finally break through and win a major in 2024?

So far, the signs are good.

Jabeur had a return to form in Madrid, with a solid run of wins en route to the quarter-finals, dismantling 9th seed, Jelena Ostapenko 6-0, 6-4 along the way.

Despite her recent first-round loss to Sofia Kenin in Rome, the 29-year-old should go into Roland Garros full of confidence, knowing that she has been patient and weathered the storm from a poor run of form, injury and setbacks.

Beyond that, Jabeur could build momentum as the year progresses, bruised and battered but mentally stronger as a result.


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