Wimbledon: Ons Jabeur on family unable to be at final, childhood dreams & watching Roger Federer’s win

Wimbledon: Ons Jabeur on family unable to be at final, childhood dreams & watching Roger Federer’s win
Wimbledon: Ons Jabeur on family unable to be at final, childhood dreams & watching Roger Federer’s win
Ons Jabeur

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.

I’m not going to lie to you, winning Wimbledon was not my childhood dream.

The childhood dream was always the French Open.

We don’t have any grass courts in Tunisia so I couldn’t imagine being at Wimbledon when I was young.

But it became a dream when I reached the quarter-finals last year because I enjoyed being here and enjoyed everything about Wimbledon.

So from then it was the target for me: to come back and win here.

My brother Hatem is planning to come over from Tunisia and will hopefully be there on Saturday, but unfortunately the other members of my family don’t have visas.

It will be tough for them but they will be cheering for me back home.

My parents Samira and Ridha and sister Yasmine can’t come to London, but it will be great that Hatem, and possibly my brother-in-law, will be here.

Now I hope it can be a great, great Saturday.

Ons Jabeur takes a selfie with Tunisian fans at Wimbledon
Third seed Jabeur became the first Arab player to reach a Grand Slam singles final with a 6-2 3-6 6-1 win over Tatjana Maria on Thursday

If I was able to win the title it would be a double celebration because it is Eid on Saturday, which is one of my favourite holidays. It’s like our Christmas.

Usually we celebrate by eating barbecued sheep and spending time with the family. I always miss it.

But maybe it is going to be a special celebration afterwards and perhaps I will have my own barbecue.

I heard the celebrations back home after my semi-final win were crazy, and they would be even crazier if I win on Saturday.

I love to see the joy in Tunisians, even though it is a difficult moment for them.

There are tough times, politically, for many people back home.

Hopefully, I can win one more match and continue to bring some joy to the people.

After every match at Wimbledon there have been some Tunisian fans waiting outside the media balcony, where players do the post-match interviews for television, and they cheer, chant and celebrate.

It is an incredible feeling to have them there and bring a Tunisian taste to Wimbledon.

‘When I was three I commentated on my mum’s matches’

People often say I have inspired them because of my achievements as an Arab and African woman.

My inspiration is my mum.

She is a big fan of tennis and took me to a tennis club when I was only three years old.

My mum used to play with her friends and I used to commentate. After the matches I was asked how she could lose!

I used to spend the whole day there in the tennis club and I loved it.

I had so much fun I even forgot to eat sometimes.

People could tell I had a talent by the way I held the racquet and could keep the ball on the racquet.

Everything was good and that’s how I started playing.

I grew up playing in a small club in my home town of Monastir and then we moved to Hammam Sousse. There, I played a lot in hotels because there were not a lot of tennis clubs around.

After playing local tournaments and getting good results, I played my first international tournament in Paris when I was 10.

Then at the age of 13 I went to the capital Tunis to study and train at the same time. It was a sport-specific high school for talented kids and that helped me to train more and develop as a player.

My first big success came when I won the French Open junior title in 2011, but then I struggled a lot with the transition from juniors to the professional tour.

But in recent years I have managed to figure out how to really play with my game and now I am one more match from a senior Grand Slam title.

It is an incredible feeling and will be even better if I can win on Saturday.

‘I will ask my little squirrel friend for more luck’

Throughout my career I have watched a lot of matches at Wimbledon, of course.

I remember seeing Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Martina Navratilova and Simona Halep winning their titles here, plus when Roger Federer won his record 15th Grand Slam men’s title against Andy Roddick.

It was a match where I was supporting Andy – he was one of my tennis heroes – but I was also very happy for Roger.

As I told you in an earlier column, I love everything about Wimbledon – the grass, the strawberries, the traditions.

Now I want to be part of this tradition, I want to be a champion and a member at the All England Club.

Of course, my preparations for the final will not alter from the other matches and I will continue to relax between practices.

During the tournament I have been often going to the parks – Hyde Park and St James’ Park – near my hotel in central London and I will try to do the same today.

Before my semi-final win against Tatjana Maria, I think I had some good luck brought to me by a little squirrel who I had a good connection with.

I am going to ask him to help me on Saturday!

He saw that I had food and he came running to me. I didn’t know squirrels could stay and be connected with you – usually they run. He was eating my food.

I enjoyed that moment because I love being with the animals and being with nature.

I love this positive energy and hopefully that can help me win the Wimbledon title.

Ons Jabeur was talking to BBC Sport’s Jonathan Jurejko at Wimbledon.

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