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Ons Jabeur sharpens quest to inspire more Arab women to take up tennis


PARIS: Ons Jabeur's long-stated goal is that her historic exploits on court lead to more Arab women taking up tennis — becoming the first Arab player to win a Grand Slam in next month's French Open final would do wonders to achieve that.

The 27-year-old Tunisian became a front-rank contender for tennis's greatest prize on clay with her gutsy three-set victory over American Jessica Pegula in the Madrid on Saturday.

In doing so the engaging and highly expressive Jabeur wrote another piece of tennis history.

Her 7-5, 0-6, 6-2 victory made her the first Arab or African woman to win a WTA 1000 title.

Her title in Birmingham last year was the first for an Arab woman player on the circuit and she is the first Arab player — man or woman — to crack the top 10.

Indeed she will return to her previous highest ranking of seven on Monday.

With a tour-leading 12 victories on clay so far this season — and with Australia's world number one Ashleigh Barty having retired — the omens seem positive for her.

However, she has another glass ceiling to crack in reaching the last four of a Grand Slam for the first time — so she has two quarterfinals to her credit in Australia in 2020 and Wimbledon last year.

Jabeur — the junior champion at Roland Garros in 2011 — is, though, armed with a powerful weapon apart from her strokeplay.

"Definitely all those matches I've won on clay will give me a lot of confidence'', she said as she absorbed her Madrid victory.

"When you're confident like that and you win a lot of matches, I think I should take this opportunity to go, like, really forward and win."

Jabeur admits to not watching much tennis when she was growing up and it was her husband Karim Kamoun who was more "obsessed by Roland Garros." — AFP

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