Ons Jabeur becomes first African woman to reach US Open final

Ons Jabeur outclassed France’s Caroline Garcia to become the first African and Arab woman ever to reach a US Open final.

Ons Jabeur of Tunisia
Ons Jabeur of Tunisia celebrates after defeating Caroline Garcia of France in the US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2022 in the Flushing neighbourhood of the Queens borough of New York City [Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP]

Tunisian tennis player Ons Jabeur has reached her second consecutive Grand Slam title match, two months after playing as a finalist at Wimbledon, as she hopes to add a major trophy to her list of groundbreaking accomplishments.

Jabeur, who becomes the first African and Arab woman to reach the US Open final, beat Caroline Garcia 6-1, 6-3 on Thursday at Flushing Meadows.

“Feels more real, to be honest with you, just to be in the final again. At Wimbledon, I was kind of just living the dream, and I couldn’t believe it,” Jabeur said after ending the 17th-seeded Garcia’s 13-match winning streak. “Now maybe I know what to do.”

The fifth-seeded Jabeur, 28, was the runner-up at the All England Club in London in July and now will be the first African and Arab woman to play in a final at the US Open in the professional era, which dates to 1968.

“After Wimbledon, [there was] a lot of pressure on me,” Jabeur said following a win that took barely more than an hour, “and I’m really relieved that I can back up my results.”

Since professional players were first admitted to major tennis tournaments, no African or Arab woman had been to a Grand Slam final until she did that at Wimbledon before losing to Elena Rybakina.

At the 2020 Australian Open, she became the first Arab woman to reach the quarterfinals at a major. Last year, she was the first Arab player to break into the top 10 of the men’s or women’s rankings and the first to win a WTA title.

“Definitely saying out loud what I want to do is part of me achieving things,” said Jabeur, who dropped to her knees and let out a yell when Thursday’s semi-final ended, then lay on her back.

The Tunisian dominated Garcia from start to finish in a one-sided semi-final that took just more than an hour to complete.

“The hard court season started a little bit bad, but I’m very happy that I made it to the finals here,” Jabeur said.

Her victory extended her career-long domination of Garcia, who Jabeur had beaten four times as a junior in Grand Slam events, and twice as a professional in Slams before Thursday.

“I know she was playing amazing tennis and that puts a lot of pressure on you,” Jabeur said. “It wasn’t easy for me but mentally I was so ready.”

Garcia had reached the last four on the back of a 13-match winning streak, which included a victory at the Cincinnati Masters lead-in event.

But Jabeur ruthlessly dismantled Garcia’s dream of becoming the first French woman to win the US Open crown with a clinical victory.

The Frenchwoman later admitted she had struggled to cope with the pressure of the occasion.

“Obviously nerves were there,” Garcia said. “Today I did know it was semi-finals, so you know what it’s bringing you if you win and what you want to achieve. It’s a dream since I’m a little girl.

“I tried the best I could. I kept fighting, kept going for it, because I know it’s my way to do things.”

On Saturday, with a championship on the line, Jabeur will go up against the number one Iga Swiatek, who grabbed the last four games, and 16 of the last 20 points, to come back and beat the sixth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Source: News Agencies