At a time when the expectations of the country, the continent and the tennis enthusiasts she’s felt so long behind prompt her to seek history, Ons Jabur falls woefully short. Jabour, her second at Wimbledon and her third Grand Slam in a year, hoped to become the first woman from Tunisia, the first from Africa and the first Arabic-speaking woman to win a major women’s singles tournament. .
The pressure of playing too many hours may have caught up with her again.
“To be honest, I felt a lot of pressure and stress,” Javert said Saturday after losing 6-4, 6-4 to Marketa Bondrosova in the women’s singles final. “But like every final, every match I played, I said to myself, ‘Okay, that’s normal.’ To be honest, I did nothing wrong. Is not.”
Over the years on the road, Jabbar has done everything right except win the title she and her fans desperately wanted. Tears flowed again on Center Court, where Jabour joined former Wimbledon finalists Andy Murray and Jana Novotna as they all shed tears after losing the final they were hoping for a landmark victory.
Jabbar, who lost last year’s Wimbledon final and the previous US Open final, struggled to face Von Drosova, who won to become the first unseeded Wimbledon women’s champion.
Shortly after, Jabour broke down in tears during the on-court ceremony, wiping tears from her pink eyes as she addressed the crowd and held the runners-up trophy like a dirty plate. She called it “the most painful loss” of her own career. And as she retreated into the elegant corridors of Wimbledon’s main stadium, Kate offered her a comforting hug.
“He said a hug from me is always welcome,” Jabur said. She demanded the same sympathetic shoulder last year after losing to Elena Ryvakina in the final.
Another famous royal hug was given by the Duchess of Kent to Novotna in 1993 after she lost the final to Steffi Graf and started crying during the trophy presentation ceremony. Five years later, Novotna won it all.
In 2012, Murray was devastated after losing to Roger Federer in the final and had little to say to his fans and the nation in his on-court speech. Burdened by the expectations of British sports fans eager to become the first men’s champion at a home Grand Slam in 77 years, Murray’s voice cracked and he tapped his eye with his thumb and forefinger. A few weeks later, he won the US Open and the following year at Wimbledon, defeating this year’s men’s finalist Novak Djokovic, who faces Carlos Alcaraz on Sunday.
There have been precedents, and perhaps luck, for popular players to show their weaknesses and shed tears after losing hard. Jabour also received a hug from Kim Clijsters, who lost four major finals before finally winning the 2005 US Open. She ended her career with four Grand Slam singles titles, one for each loss.
“It brings back a lot of memories and thoughts about how we approach the game,” Clijsters said in Saturday’s post-match interview. “I was trying to remember the process I went through. There are no real secrets, just trying to give myself another chance to be on that stage.”
At the 2001 French Open, Clijsters sought to become the first Belgian woman to win a major tournament. She lost 12-10 to Jennifer Capriati in a spectacular third set the day after her 18th birthday. Clijsters said if she had won that day, she would have been too young to endure all the attention, scrutiny and on-court challenges.
Jabbar, who turns 29 in August, feels fully poised to win. But with each failure, the pressure only increases. Clijsters found Jabour had poor body language on Saturday, depressed after mistakes and showed no positive emotions after hitting good shots.
“This shows that suspicion overwhelmed everything during the match,” Clijsters said. “The biggest thing she has to learn is to fake it. Fake it until you succeed.”
For Jabal, who is as talented as he is genuine, it can be hard to pretend. One of the many reasons her fans are drawn to her. The No. 6 seed performed well here, avenging her crushing defeats last year, losing to No. 3 Rybakina in the quarterfinals and No. 2 Alina Sabalenka in the semis. Her defeat was made all the more excruciating, as many thought it was Jabber’s turn, and she drew sympathy from the Vondrasova faction.
“When I saw her, I started crying too,” said Vondrousova’s husband, Stepan Simek. “Ons is a very nice person. She has a good heart and is very friendly to her opponents and to me. It was, and she’ll make it someday.”