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“It feels like I’m the one hosting the tournament for some reason” – Jabeur hopes WTA Monastir will lead to African tour one day

With the WTA Tour hosting its first 250 event in Tunisia this week, local favourite Ons Jabeur hopes this is the start of bigger things for Tunisian tennis

Ons Jabeur at the 2022 Jasmin Open in Montasir Tunisia Ons Jabeur at the 2022 Jasmin Open in Montasir Tunisia Image Credit: Imago / Panoramic

The emergence of a top player from a non-traditional tennis country has often led to a tennis boom in that nation. We saw it when Boris Becker and Steffi Graf sent the popularity of tennis soaring in Germany following their Grand Slam breakthroughs in the 1980s and in recent years, we have seen the same in Poland, thanks to Iga Swiatek and Hubert Hurkacz, and Greece, thanks to Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari, among other countries.

Tunisia is also witnessing an unprecedented boom in tennis – all thanks to the rise of Ons Jabeur, now ranked No 2 in the world after reaching her first two Grand Slam finals in 2022.

Thanks to the 28-year-old’s rise and the burgeoning intertest in the sport, Tunisia is hosting its first ever WTA 250 event – the Jasmin Open in Monastir with the local favourite headlining the draw.

On Tuesday, Jabeur won her first round match over American Ann Li in straight sets in front of a packed stadium court. After her win, the Tunisian spoke about how happy she was to play in front of her home fans.

“It’s a good pressure. I am very happy with the win today, especially with the amazing crowd and all the Tunisian flags everywhere. So, thank you guys for coming,” she said.

Jabeur, who played an instrumental tole in connecting IMG, the tournament’s license holders and Tunisian tennis officials, has been eagerly looking forward to playing at home.

Jabeur : “excited to play here”

“I’m very proud that they’re organising this in Tunisia,” Jabeur said in an interview to Arab News prior to her first-round match. “I’ve been asking the players if they need anything; it feels like I’m the one hosting the tournament for some reason, I think it’s an Arab thing. I’m very happy with the way the tournament is going. I’m very excited to play here.”

Jabeur added that she hopes this will be the start of hopefully many more events in the region. “Hopefully we can have like a small tour of several tournaments here in Africa one day,” she added.

Jabeur will be back on the Monastir courts in front of her home fans on Thursday as she takes on Evgeniya Rodina for a place in the quarter-finals. A title in front of her home fans would surely be the icing on the cake on an already historic week.

Ons Jabeur, Monastir 2022
Ons Jabeur, Monastir 2022 • © Imago / Panoramic
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