Losing at Wimbledon can leave a lasting impact, as the pain of defeat lingers as vividly as the joy of clinching the title. Ons Jabeur, a favorite to win the women’s championship, had the weight of history on her shoulders as many anticipated her becoming the first Arab and African woman to secure a Grand Slam victory. However, the 28-year-old Tunisian succumbed in straight sets to the unseeded Markéta Vondroušová. The disappointment was palpable as tears flowed during the trophy presentation, with Jabeur’s husband equally unable to hide his emotions.
Wimbledon’s prestigious title is the one Jabeur desires above all others, but for the second consecutive year, she had to settle for the runner-up trophy. Wiping away her tears, she addressed the Centre Court crowd, stating, “I will try, but this is very, very tough. I think this is the most painful loss of my career.” Jabeur’s emotional reaction struck a chord, prompting Princess of Wales to console her, evoking memories of Czech player Jana Novotná seeking solace from the Duchess of Kent during the 1993 trophy presentation. British tennis enthusiasts would also recall Andy Murray’s tearful speech following his defeat in the 2012 men’s final.
When asked what the Princess of Wales said to her at that moment, Jabeur told reporters, “The same thing as last year: to encourage me to be strong, come back, win a Grand Slam, win Wimbledon. Obviously, she was very nice. She didn’t know if she wanted to give me a hug or not. I told her hugs are always welcome from me. It was a very nice moment, and she’s always nice to me.”
Jabeur revealed that she cried in the locker room alongside Kim Clijsters, who had lost her first four Grand Slam finals before eventually breaking through and ending her career with four major titles. Reflecting on the moments leading up to the match, Jabeur admitted feeling immense pressure and stress. However, she reassured herself that she had done everything in her power, and sometimes success takes time. She hoped to follow in the footsteps of others who initially faced failure but eventually achieved their goals.
Jabeur acknowledged her shortcomings in the match, noting her inadequate serving and her opponent’s relentless returns. She also cited her struggling backhand and the challenge of adapting to playing against different opponents in recent matches. Despite her own performance, she credited Vondroušová for her outstanding play.
Ultimately, it was Vondroušová who made history by becoming the first unseeded woman in the Open Era to claim the Wimbledon title. The last unseeded woman to reach a Wimbledon final was Billie Jean King in 1963. Competing in her second Grand Slam final, the 24-year-old Czech showcased brilliant grass-court skills and a variety of shots that overwhelmed the sixth-seeded Jabeur.
Jabeur became the fifth seeded player to fall to the left-handed Vondroušová at this year’s Wimbledon, as her unpredictable style proved challenging for opponents to handle. Despite having several opportunities to take control of the match, Jabeur struggled. Vondroušová’s victory was well-deserved, particularly considering she had been in London as a tourist last year, still in the process of recovering from left wrist surgery.
“I’m so grateful and proud of myself,” Vondroušová expressed to reporters. Reflecting on her journey back from injury, she admitted not even considering the possibility of winning this seemingly impossible Grand Slam, especially on grass, where she had previously struggled. The Czech player’s triumph came as a pleasant surprise.
Vondroušová shared her plans to expand her tattoo collection and mentioned that her coach would also get a tattoo to commemorate the victory. “I think I’ll choose for him,” she said, hinting at the possibility of matching tattoos.