Wimbledon: Ons Jabeur & Elena Rybakina bid to make further history in final

Wimbledon: Ons Jabeur & Elena Rybakina bid to make further history in final
Venue: All England Club Dates: 27 June-10 July
Coverage: Live across BBC TV, radio and online with extensive coverage on BBC iPlayer, Red Button, Connected TVs and mobile app.

There will be a new name on the Venus Rosewater Dish as Ons Jabeur and Elena Rybakina chase further history in the Wimbledon final on Saturday.

Tunisian third seed Jabeur is bidding to become the first Arab player to win a Grand Slam singles title.

Rybakina, who was born in Russia but has represented Kazakhstan since 2018, is aiming to become the country’s first player to win a major singles trophy.

They will play from 14:00 BST on Centre Court, with coverage across the BBC.

Their head-to-head is tied at one win apiece, while Rybakina retired midway through their third meeting with injury.

Both have scaled new heights by making the final. World number two Jabeur is the first African woman to reach a major final since 1960, while 23-year-old Rybakina is the youngest women’s finalist at SW19 since 2015, when Garbine Muguruza was 21.

Jabeur aiming for ‘positive vibes’

Jabeur spoke after her semi-final victory of her pride in being a Tunisian woman and has been nicknamed the ‘Minister of Happiness’ back home.

The Tunisian sport minister has already said a public reception will be held for the 27-year-old on her return home.

Jabeur has already broken new ground by becoming the first Arab player to:

  • Win a WTA singles title
  • Win a WTA 1,000 event (the biggest tournaments outside a Grand Slam)
  • Break into the top 10 of the world rankings
  • Reach a Grand Slam quarter-final and beyond

Her entertaining game, built on slices, drop shots and an ability to hit winners with ease, has made her a fan favourite at Wimbledon and beyond.

Eid al-Adha, the second and biggest holidayexternal-link celebrated in Islam, begins on Saturday, and Jabeur hopes to add to the celebrations by lifting the Wimbledon trophy.

“If I make it on that special holiday, one of my favourites actually, it’s going to be great,” she said.

“It’s going to be a special celebration maybe after, having my own barbecue maybe.

“We’ll have to enjoy it and hopefully we’ll enjoy it in positive vibes.”

‘Kazakhstan believed in me’

Having banned Russian and Belarusian players from competing following the invasion of Ukraine, Wimbledon could still have a Russian-born player lifting the winner’s trophy.

Russian media has already reported on Rybakina reaching the final as a victory for the country, with the president of the Russian Tennis Federation describing her as “our product”.

Rybakina has represented Kazakhstan since she was 19 and credits its funding and support with helping her make it as a professional tennis player.

When asked if she “feels” Russian, she replied: “What does it mean for you to feel? I mean, I’m playing tennis, so for me, I’m enjoying my time here.

“They believed in me. There is no more question about how I feel. It’s already a long time my journey as a Kazakh player.”

While she has flown under the radar at Wimbledon, Rybakina drew admirers with her superb semi-final victory, where she overwhelmed 2019 champion Simona Halep with her easy power.

She had been in great form in 2020 before the WTA Tour shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, winning 20 of her first 25 matches and reaching four finals.

She reached the final of her first tournament of the new season in Adelaide, losing to Ashleigh Barty, and reached the Indian Wells quarter-finals in March.

“I didn’t expect that I’m going to be here in the second week, especially in the final,” she said.

“I can say that this is really first time when I enjoyed every day of playing and just being in the tournaments.”

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