No stopping Jabeur as she beats former Wimbledon champion Muguruza
London (AFP) –
Trailblazing Tunisian Ons Jabeur says she does not want her historic "journey to stop here" after she reached the Last 16 at Wimbledon on Friday.
The 26-year-old showed both her fighting qualities and a great range of shots coming back from a set down to beat 2017 champion Garbine Muguruza 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 in 2hrs 26 minutes.
Jabeur was so nervous when she moved to two match points she knelt down and was physically sick in the corner of Centre Court at the end where the Duchess of Cambridge was sitting in the Royal Box.
"I'm actually having a problem with my stomach," she said at her press conference.
"I have an inflammation. It has been going on for a while.
"It bothers me probably with the stress, fatigue, everything.
"Sometimes when I drink water, the water doesn't go through any more. That's why I get sick."
Muguruza saved that match point but Jabeur made no mistake when she secured a second one and fell on her back in celebration getting back up to a standing ovation.
Her victory will do wonders for her goal of encouraging more Arab women, especially in North Africa, to take up the sport and eventually join her on the professional circuit.
It was another landmark performance by Jabeur who only last month became the first Arab woman to win a WTA Tour title, winning on grass at Birmingham.
She said it was the "best day of her career," and the significance of it for the Arab world was immense.
"It means a lot," she said. "Especially so many Arab people watching me and supporting me.
"I've received a lot of messages from different people.
"It's amazing. But I don't want the journey to stop here. I want it to continue.
"I mean, hopefully whoever is watching, I hope that so many of the young generation is watching, and I can inspire them.
"Hopefully one day I could be playing with a lot of players next to me."
- 'Try to joke' -
Jabeur, whose best Grand Slam run is the quarter-finals at the 2020 Australian Open, said she lacked a role model close to home when she was growing up.
"Sometimes you need someone to inspire you and show you the path," said Jabeur, whose favourite player of all time is America's 2003 US Open champion and three-time Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick.
"I know myself, I struggled sometimes to see the way ahead.
"I didn't believe in myself because I didn't see many Tunisians before me.
"But I hope, like, one day this could change.
"I hope we can change this mentality and many other players could come here and believe in themselves."
Muguruza had taken a tight first set but 26-year-old Jabeur worked her way back into the match and by the third she clearly had the upper hand.
Muguruza's serve was continually under pressure with Jabeur breaking her on her first service game of the deciding set.
The Venezuela-born Spaniard saved several break points on her next service game but Jabeur broke again for 4-1.
The Tunisian was never really under pressure save from herself from then on before sealing a fourth round clash with Poland's 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek.
Her nerves on court are diametrically opposed to her behaviour off court where she is known as something of a practical joker.
"I mean, I always said that my game reflects my character," she said.
"I'm someone that doesn't like routine. Changing the shots and having fun on the court, making a lot of jokes outside the court, it reflects me as a person.
"I try to joke with a lot of players.
"I hope they don't take my jokes badly but I try to be fun."
© 2021 AFP