Ons Jabeur throws her weight behind Saudi Arabian events
Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur believes that a WTA event in Saudi Arabia would help break down barriers to progress within the kingdom.
The WTA Finals may be relocated to Riyadh, according to Sports Illustrated.
It has been confirmed that both the ATP and WTA have held talks with Saudi Arabia regarding the hosting of major events.
The ATP has already announced that their Next Gen Finals will be staged in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah until 2027.
The Saudi government, which enforces strict and arguably repressive laws on everyone in the state under the absolute control of the House of Saud, has been accused of abusing human rights in the kingdom and has received strong criticism from advocacy groups and watchdogs.
These advances towards Saudi Arabia, which has sought to become a staging ground for massive global sporting events in a manner similar to the Gulf States of the UAE and Qatar.
A number of former players have condemned these moves, among them John McEnroe.
Jabeur, the first Arab woman to play in a Grand Slam final, hopes that women’s tennis events will have a liberating impact on Saudi society.
She says that she wants to see WTA events in Saudi Arabia having been encouraged while visiting the country in 2022 for an exhibition event.
“As an Arab player, I’d be very excited to be there,” Jabeur said.
“I am someone pushing for a change, pushing to give more and more opportunities especially for women.”
“I know in Saudi they’re changing things and they’re evolving. I’ve been there last year to give a speech and interview there. It was very nice meeting a lot of amazing women there. For me, I was trying to push to have tennis in Saudi,” the Tunisian star added.
Jabeur hopes to be able to personally impact the lives of women in Saudi Arabia and has urged the WTA to take the Finals to the kingdom.
She continued: “I think it’s a great step.
“I think it’s something that could help the Arab world to have more tennis players, to get more involved in sports.
“If they play there, and hopefully if I qualify, it will be a great honour and opportunity for me to go and play there, especially meeting a lot of women. They told me they look up to me.
“That would be a great opportunity for me to meet them and speak to them,” Jabeur said.
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