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Africans rising

Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur is the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final

25-year-old Tunisian Ons Jabeur, the highest-ranked Arab woman in tennis history, knocked out China’s Wang Qiang to become the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final.



The first Tunisian and Arab woman to win a main-draw match at the Australian Open is 25-year-old Ons Jabeur. The only other Tunisian woman to win at a Grand Slam after reaching the second round at Wimbledon, the US Open and the French Open was Selima Sfar.

Jabeur played against 27th-ranked Wang, who had defeated 23-times Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in the third round. Wang faltered in the second set, going down two breaks as Jabeur kept her off balance with varied and speedy shots.

“The first set was tricky little bit because I started good, but then went down little bit, couldn’t win my serve,” Jabeur said post-match. “Obviously second set was amazing for me. I was really relaxed… I’m happy that I went through.”

Jabeur also sent former world number one Caroline Wozniacki into retirement in the previous round.


The tennis giant describes herself as a “100% Tunisian product” having turned down opportunities to train abroad to continue developing her game at home.

“I got a lot of offers to go to college in the US — wasn’t really an option for me,” said Jabeur, who is ranked 78th in the world. “I wanted to really go pro directly. I knew if I play in college, I cannot play professional tournaments.

“We don’t have much experience in Tunisia. But hopefully now we can see more and more.”

She therefore hopes her success at the Australian Open will inspire other players from her region.


“I’m trying to inspire many (of the) young generation back home either in Tunisia or the Arabic world, especially in Africa, which is amazing,” Jabeur is quoted saying by AFP.

“I mean, it’s not impossible. I made it. Like I said before, I’ve been practising in Tunisia from the age of three through 16 or 17. I’m 100 percent Tunisian product.”

She went on to acknowledge the drawbacks in Tunisia’s recent past saying, “It was little bit tough after the revolution. It was not really safe at the time. Now everything, like, is normal.”


Other African’s that featured in the Grand Slam are Egyptian debutante Mayar Sherif made it to the first round of the women’s qualifying draw and fellow Egyptian Mohamed Safwat made it through his three qualifying matches to become the first Egyptian player since 1978 to make the Australian Open’s main draw.