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Roland-Garros 2023: Ons Jabeur carries the hopes of Tunisia and an entire continent


Before this 2023 edition, Roland-Garros was the only Grand Slam tournament where Ons Jabeur had not reached, at least, the quarter-final stage. A shame for the 28-year-old Tunisian, raised on clay and already winner of the Madrid Masters 1000 on the ocher surface. About ten years ago, in 2011, she even lifted the trophy for the junior edition of the French Open.

“Is that running through your head coming here or not? »asked a journalist at a press conference on Friday, May 26. ” Now if ! »replied the finalist of the last editions of Wimbledon and the US Open. “It’s a good goal for this year, I’m going to put it in my head. »

Ten days later, this objective has been executed. After a hung third round against Serbian Olga Danilovic (4-6, 6-4, 6-2), the number 7 seed in the women’s draw easily dismissed American Bernarda Pera, 130e world, in the round of 16, spending just over an hour on the Philippe-Chatrier court (6-3, 6-1 victory).

Read also: The women’s matches on the program for the night sessions of Roland-Garros 2023 are debated

In the stands, Kamel was one of his supporters. For those who work as a taxi in Paris, “Oh, it’s family”. In her native country, the player has indeed earned the nickname of “Minister of Happiness”. It represents “a great pride for us Tunisians and Africans around the world”continues Kamel, after having lent his national flag to compatriots who wanted to take a souvenir photo.

This ambassador costume, Ons Jabeur wears it with pleasure. “I try to inspire so many generations in my country”, she repeats often. The support of his supporters? “I was lucky to see them everywhere (…) It’s an honor for me”she said after her victory.

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In the stands of the Philippe-Chatrier court, Kamel was not the only one to deploy a red flag, with a white disc and a red crescent. “I see a lot of people who come here to pay a very expensive ticket, or get up at 3 or 4 in the morning to watch the matches”, testifies Ons Jabeur. She also ensures ” have learned to manage the weight of the expectations of an entire continent that weighs on his shoulders. “Pressure is a privilege as Billie Jean King says”says the Tunisian in reference to the American champion of the 1960s and 1970s.

Also read the interview with Billie Jean King: Article reserved for our subscribers “I wanted women and men to play on the same circuit”

At the 2020 Australian Open, Ons Jabeur was the first player from the Arab world to reach the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam tournament. Since then, her quest has been to become the first African woman to win a singles Major. If she accomplished this feat, she would also become the first representative of the continent, men and women alike, since the South African Johan Kriek, in Melbourne, in 1981 (but this one represented at the time the colors of a segregationist country ).

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