Trailblazer Ons Jabeur continues quest for maiden WTA Tour title and further history
When you think of trailblazers in any sport, you generally think of huge stars that define not only that sport but a part of the world around them too.
Tennis is no different from that.
If asked to talk about trailblazers in tennis we might think of the likes of Arthur Ashe, Venus and Serena Williams, and Naomi Osaka, all of whom have achieved greatness in a sport usually defined by whiteness whilst simultaneously fighting for social equality.
You may also think of the likes of Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova, two pioneers of both women’s sport and LGBTQ+ rights.
All of those are names that transcend sport. They are all names and figures who have become household names thanks to both their achievements on court, and perhaps more importantly their achievements off it.
However, you don’t need to be a huge star to be a pioneer.
Ask anyone who doesn’t follow tennis who Ons Jabeur is and most would not have a clue.
Jabeur is not a superstar of the sport. She has never gone deep in a Grand Slam, or won a WTA Tour title, or been ranked inside the top 20. But she is one of the most influential players in WTA history.
The Tunisian is the most successful women’s player in Arabic history. In 2019, she was named as Arab woman of the year, and her star has only kept growing since then.
The 26-year-old is currently in the best form of her career. She sits at a career high of 25th in the WTA Rankings and has become one of the most dangerous and consistent players on tour.
Last year, she reached the last eight at the Australian Open and also reached a string of other quarter-finals, whilst in Charleston recently she reached the last four of the Volvo Car Open and then the final of the WTA250 event that followed.
Jabeur was top seed at the second of those events and was a set up in the final, though eventually fell to unseeded Astra Sharma who claimed the first WTA title of her career.
Thank you everyone for you support. Today it wasn’t meant to be. I will keep working hard and achieve my goals.
Special thanks to my fans ❤️ and my team @karimkmn and Issam 🙏💪#yallah #nevergiveup 💪💪🇹🇳🇹🇳🇹🇳 pic.twitter.com/dwJqUHads7
— Ons Jabeur (@Ons_Jabeur) April 18, 2021
That was the Tunisian’s second WTA final and second loss at that stage, having fallen to Daria Kasatkina from a set and a break up in the Kremlin Cup final three years ago.
Jabeur’s influence and importance deserve to be recognised and celebrated. Not only does she provide inspiration for other “late bloomers” on Tour, she is also an incredible figure for other younger Arabic players.
It is not an area usually perceived as a tennis superpower, yet Jabeur’s influence could inspire more and more children to take up the sport.
Though she has already had a huge impact on the game, winning a WTA title would cement that and boost her star power even further.
Considering how well she has been playing recently, it could be a matter of “when” and not “if”.
Follow Oli Jefford on Twitter @odicksonjefford.
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