Aryna Sabalenko and Amna Al Qubaisi
UAE F3 driver Amna Al Qubaisi takes Australian Open tennis champion Aryna Sabalenko on a tour of Dubai on February 20, 2023. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Australian Open winner Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus swapped her topspins for a tailspin ahead of her first match at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, taking a guided tour of Dubai on Monday with the UAE’s first female Formula 3 driver Amna Al Qubaisi.

In a BMW M4 Competition - 50 Year M Edition, the pair drove past several landmarks, including the new Museum of the Future and the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa. After a pitstop at the city’s famous Kite Beach, the duo exchanged sporting stories. “Being in Dubai is always refreshing — the city has a lot to offer, from fantastic cars to great food,” said Sabalenka. “Of course, while I’m on the court, the energy that the fans bring to the stadium is amazing.”


Sabalenka, who received a first-round bye, will take the Centre Court at the Dubai Tennis Stadium on Tuesday to face off against American Lauren Davis. Ranked World No. 2, the Belarusian is undefeated this year, and Dubai marks her first appearance on the WTA Tour since her maiden Grand Slam victory last month in Melbourne.

Facing the Arabian Gulf, Sabalenka and Al Qubaisi stood in the shadows of the famous Burj Al Arab, where tennis legends Roger Federer and Andre Agassi played an iconic exhibition match atop the seven-star hotel’s helipad in 2005. It was the same year six-year-old Sabalenka picked up a tennis racquet for the first time.

“I have been playing the sport for 18 years. It’s taken a lot of hard work and dedication to get to the point that I am at in my career, but it is extremely rewarding,” said Belarus’s first Grand Slam champion.

Sabalenko and Al Qubaisi discussed their careers and the importance of pushing personal and professional limits. The 22-year-old UAE F3 driver said she wants to use her national profile to help empower young Gulf women. In December 2018, she became the first woman from the Middle East to participate in a Formula E test programme. And less than a year later, she competed in the Formula 3 Asian Championships.

Sabalenka and Al Qubaisi
TRADING PLACES: Aryna Sabalenka and Amna Al Qubaisi near the Burj Al Arab, where tennis legends Roger Federer and Andre Agassi played an iconic exhibition match atop the hotel’s helipad in 2005. Image Credit: Supplied

“At the age of 13, driving and racing piqued my interest,” she said. “Ever since then, I’ve not looked back. The adrenaline I feel when I’m on the track is unparalleled. Being the first female Formula 3 driver in the UAE is a privilege, and I am working to continue to grow the sport across the region, especially for women.”

The two seemed to quickly form a bond, with Al Qubaisi even entrusting her new friend to take the wheel for their journey back to the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel. “You’re a really good driver,” she wrote on Sabalenka’s Instagram. “Next time we go on the track.”