An emotional Ons Jabeur couldn’t hold back her tears as she accepted the Wimbledon runner-up plate for the second consecutive year. The Tunisian tennis player had come so close to achieving her dream of becoming the first Arab and African woman to win a grand slam title, but fell short once again. Jabeur’s loss to Marketa Vondrousova in straight sets was a painful reminder of the pressure she feels and the stress she endures as she strives for success.
Jabeur had fought hard to reach the final, defeating four grand slam champions along the way. She even held a 4-2 lead in the first set and a 3-1 advantage in the second, but was unable to maintain her momentum. The weight of expectation seemed to crush her as she made crucial mistakes, resulting in a 4-6, 4-6 defeat. This loss, combined with her second-place finish at the US Open last year, left Jabeur wondering what more she needs to do to finally lift a grand slam trophy.
Despite the disappointment, Jabeur found solace in the support of fellow players, particularly four-time major winner Kim Clijsters. The two shared a tearful moment in the locker room, with Clijsters offering words of encouragement and reminding Jabeur that even she had lost her first four grand slam finals. Jabeur expressed her gratitude for Clijsters’ inspiration and guidance, emphasizing the priceless value of having someone like her in her corner.
Jabeur joins a long list of players who have experienced heartbreak before ultimately finding success. Chris Evert lost her first three slam finals before going on to win a total of 18, while Simona Halep also endured three losses before claiming her first grand slam title at Wimbledon in 2019. However, Jabeur feels an added weight of responsibility as she represents not only herself, but an entire continent and the Arab world whenever she steps onto the court.
“The more good results that I do, the more pressure I feel. I felt a lot of pressure, feeling a lot of stress,” Jabeur admitted. Her Wimbledon dreams were shattered by 31 unforced errors, highlighting the mental toll that the pressure can take. Jabeur understands that forcing success is not the answer and that sometimes things are simply not meant to be.