Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 February 2020

'I'm really proud' - Ons Jabeur the first Arab woman to reach Grand Slam quarter-final

Tunisian beats Serena Williams's conqueror to make the last eight in Australian Open

Ons Jabeur said she hoped to inspire young people across the Arabic-speaking world after she became the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final on Sunday.

The unseeded Tunisian, 25, knocked out China's Wang Qiang, who upset Serena Williams in the previous round, 7-6 (7/4), 6-1 to extend her dream run in Melbourne.

Jabeur, the highest-ranked Arab woman in history, reached a career-high 51 last year and is now 78th. She will play America's Sofia Kenin next in the last eight.

"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 said.

"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 a 100 per cent Tunisian product."

Africa's No 1 and the first Tunisian woman to win a main-draw match at the Australian Open, she said she had received messages from people watching in the early hours back home.

Selima Sfar is the only other Tunisian woman to win at a Grand Slam after she reached the second round at Wimbledon, Roland Garros and the US Open in the 2000s.

"I'm receiving a lot of messages, especially people waking up at 5am to watch my match. I'm really proud," Jabeur said.

"Hopefully they can still watch me and follow more, not just in the Grand Slam but the other tournaments. It will be really amazing. I really hope I can give a good example."

Jabeur's success has not come easy; Tunisia has been through a period of upheaval surrounding the revolution of 2011.

"It was little bit tough after the revolution. It was not really safe at the time. Now everything is normal," said Jabeur, who now feels she's reaping the reward for years of hard work.

"I called my mom right away. She was really, really happy. Probably receiving a lot of calls. My father as well. I think he was crying, I don't know," she said.

"The family, everyone was behind me. They couldn't go back to sleep again, of course. But I'm happy that I have this support because we've been through rough times. Now it's finally paying off."

Updated: January 26, 2020 03:53 PM

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