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Jabeur is still Tunisia’s pride despite losing at Wimbledon

#Jabeur #Tunisias #pride #losing #Wimbledon

Hailing her as ‘the pride of the nation’ and ‘an ambassador of happiness’, Tunisians remained wowed by tennis star Ons Jabeur on Saturday, who celebrated her presence in the prestigious Wimbledon final despite her loss.

Jabeur became world number two and then made history as the first African woman to reach a Grand Slam singles final in modern times.

Despite missing out on the All England Lawn Tennis Club title, she said after the match: “I’m trying to inspire a lot of generations from my country. I hope they’re listening.”

In a café not far from the Hammam Sousse tennis club, where the 27-year-old started her career, a group of young Tunisian men watched the game closely and roared with excitement at every point she won.

“It’s our Tunisian national product,” said Safwen Ghairi, a 21-year-old student.

He and his friends had rushed through their traditional Eid al-Adha meal to get to the cafe – one of the few open on the national holiday, which began on Saturday – to watch the game.

Jabeur represents the African continent “and the region at Wimbledon,” Ghairi said. “It’s a real achievement.”

– ‘Pride of the Nation’ –

His friend Zaher Edine Dahman, 27, called Jabeur “our ambassador of happiness”.

“The authorities could never match the promotion Ons Jabeur brought to Tunisia, even if they had spent millions,” he said.

“We used to dream of a Tunisian player just qualifying for Wimbledon and today Tunisia are in the final,” he added.

Her former coach Nabil Mlika told AFP after the game that Jabeur was “the pride of the nation” and wished her the best of luck for the US Open, which starts next month.

Cafe worker Hafedh Amrouni, 25, said Jabeur “honored the country” despite coming second.

Her success was rare good news for a North African country mired in an economic and political crisis, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and the aftermath of the war in Ukraine.

“I love to see the joy of the Tunisians, even if it’s a difficult moment for them,” she said after her semi-final victory.

On Friday, the country’s sports minister, Kamel Deguiche, said celebrations were planned after Wimbledon and that he wanted to officially bestow the title of Minister of Happiness on Jabeur, adding: “It’s the state’s duty to her.”

– Inspired by her mother –

Jabeur, the youngest of four children, was born in Ksar Hellal on August 28, 1994 and began her career as a child on hotel tennis courts in the nearby resort of Hammam Sousse.

She has called her mother her inspiration.

“She’s a huge tennis fan and took me to a tennis club when I was three,” she said in a BBC column.

“My mom used to play with her friends and I commented … I spent all day there at the tennis club and I really enjoyed it,” she added.

The British embassy in Tunis on Saturday said it would “investigate what happened” after Jabeur said her parents could not attend the final because they did not have a visa.

Jabeur moved to the capital Tunis at the age of 12 to train at a highly regarded state-backed sports club.

She caused a stir on the global scene in 2011, winning the girls’ singles at the French Open at age 16.

She reached the world top 50 at the Australian Open in January 2020 – the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal – and has climbed the rankings since then.

Her fame has sparked a growing interest in tennis in her home country, and membership at her hometown club has skyrocketed from 320 in 2018 to more than 700 today.

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#Jabeur #Tunisias #pride #losing #Wimbledon

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