Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur will arrive at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships later this month as a genuine contender for the title as her inspiring career continues to go from strength to strength.
When she first competed in the tournament she was a qualifier ranked 1169. That was in 2012. Now, in 2022, she arrives having climbed as high as seven in the world on the back of so many achievements that have made her not only an icon in the world of Arab sports but an opponent to be feared at any tournament she enters.
“The progress that Ons Jabeur has made since her first appearance at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships has been remarkable,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “Not only has she established a number of milestones in the sport, but she has done so while also being one of the most popular players on the WTA Tour. We very much look forward to seeing how much further she progresses, not only this month in Dubai but throughout the season, and we wish her every success.”
Jabeur has certainly made her mark in Dubai. In 2019 she stretched defending champion Elina Svitolina to a first set tiebreak before having to retire in the second set with a right shoulder injury. In 2020 she held match point against eventual champion Simona Halep before the world number two squeezed through in a final set tiebreak. And last season Jabeur overcame 2020 finalist Elena Rybakina in the second round.
She had shown promise at an early age by reaching the junior Grand Slam final at the French Open in 2010 and then again in 2011 when she claimed the title to become the first Arab player to win a junior Grand Slam singles title since Ismail El Shafei won the Wimbledon boys’ title in 1964. She eventually made the challenging transition from juniors to the main tour, and following an appearance in her first major tournament final, in Moscow in 2018, her progress was recognised when she received the Arab Women Of the Year In Sports Award in 2019.
But it was in 2020 that her career really began to take off. At the Australian Open that year she became the first Arab woman to reach the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam tournament by beating former world number one Caroline Wozniacki in what was to be the final match of her career.
Appearances in the third round of the US Open and the fourth round of the Covid-delayed French Open solidified her position, and in 2021 she not only reached a second Grand Slam quarter-final at Wimbledon where she overcame former champion Venus Williams, two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza and 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek in successive matches, but claimed her first WTA Tour title by beating former Dubai runner-up Daria Kasatkina in Birmingham. Her victory marked the first time that an Arab female player had won a WTA Tour title.
“People now in Tunisia, they’re more interested in tennis, more than before,” she said after her victory. “They’re really excited. I hope I can make history by inspiring other people behind me, Tunisian or Arabic will be great. That would be the best thing I can do. I hope I can inspire more and more generations.”
In the last months of the season she continued to excel, with victories over Elina Svitolina and Elena Rybakina on her way to the Chicago final, and then by reaching the semi-finals at Indian Wells she became the first Arab tennis player to reach the top 10 in either ATP or WTA rankings history. But for the ambitious Jabeur, that was just a step along the way.
“This is something that I’ve been wanting,” she said after her quarter-final victory. “I always wanted to get there, to be number one in the world. Top 10 I know is the beginning. I know I deserve this place as I was playing well for a long time. But I want to prove that I deserve to be here, I deserve to be one of the top 10 players. I worked hard, and this is just the beginning of great things.”
“There is no question that Ons Jabeur has both the ability and attitude to take her to the very top, and it will be fascinating to see how well she does in Dubai against so many other members of the world’s top 20,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “She has already proved that she will be a strong contender for the title after earning victory over several of the opponents she might face here, and no-one she plays will underestimate the challenge that she presents to them.”
Tickets for the magnificent tennis extravaganza are now on sale at www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com. Prices start at AED 55, and tickets will also be available at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium Box Office from 8th February. Restrictions will apply, with capacity limited to 80% in the stadium.
The tournament begins with the WTA event, which includes five Dubai champions and 18 of the top 20 and takes place between 14th and 19th February, and then continues between 21st and 26th February with the 30th anniversary staging of the ATP Tour 500 tournament which features world number one Novak Djokovic and defending champion Aslan Karatsev.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.