Dubai: Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, a big crowd favourite at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, will be back here as one of the genuine contenders in the upcoming edition of the event. The WTA week is scheduled at the Dubai Tennis Stadium from February 14-19.
“The progress that Ons Jabeur has made since her first appearance at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships has been remarkable,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “Not only has she established a number of milestones in the sport, but she has done so while also being one of the most popular players on the WTA Tour. We very much look forward to seeing how much further she progresses, not only this month in Dubai but throughout the season, and we wish her every success.”
Jabeur has certainly made her mark in Dubai. In 2019, she stretched defending champion Elina Svitolina to a first set tiebreak before having to retire in the second set with a right shoulder injury. In 2020, she held match point against eventual champion Simona Halep before the world number two squeezed through in a final set tiebreak. Last season, Jabeur overcame 2020 finalist Elena Rybakina in the second round.
She had shown promise at an early age by reaching the junior Grand Slam final at the French Open in 2010 and then again in 2011 when she claimed the title to become the first Arab player to win a junior Grand Slam singles title since Ismail El Shafei won the Wimbledon boys’ title in 1964. She eventually made the challenging transition from juniors to the main Tour, and following an appearance in her first major tournament final, in Moscow in 2018, her progress was recognised when she received the Arab Women Of the Year In Sports Award in 2019.
It was in 2020 that her career really began to take off. At the Australian Open that year she became the first Arab woman to reach the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam tournament by beating former world number one Caroline Wozniacki in what was to be the final match of her career.
Appearances in the third round of the US Open and the fourth round of the Covid-delayed French Open solidified her position, and in 2021 she not only reached a second Grand Slam quarter-final at Wimbledon where she overcame former champion Venus Williams, two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza and 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek in successive matches, but claimed her first WTA Tour title by beating former Dubai runner-up Daria Kasatkina in Birmingham. Her victory marked the first time that an Arab female player had won a WTA Tour title.
“People now in Tunisia, they’re more interested in tennis, more than before,” she said after her victory. “They’re really excited. I hope I can make history by inspiring other people behind me, Tunisian or Arabic will be great. That would be the best thing I can do. I hope I can inspire more and more generations.”
“There is no question that Ons Jabeur has both the ability and attitude to take her to the very top, and it will be fascinating to see how well she does in Dubai against so many other members of the world’s top 20,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak.
Tickets for the magnificent tennis extravaganza are now on sale at www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com. Prices start at AED 55, and tickets will also be available at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium Box Office from February 8.