Ons Jabeur joined some good company Sunday in Berlin. By winning her second title of the season at the bett1open, Jabeur joined Ashleigh Barty and Iga Swiatek as the only players to win titles as the No.1 seed this season. The 27-year-old will rise to a career-high ranking of No.3 on Monday and now sits behind only Swiatek at No.2 on the Race to the WTA Finals.
Jabeur's next headline-grabbing task will be to team up with Serena Williams in doubles at the Rothesay International in Eastbourne, England this week. When the Tunisian-American duo take the court for their first-round match against Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo, it will mark Williams' first match on the Hologic WTA Tour in nearly 12 months.
"I wanted to tell everyone but obviously I couldn't," Jabeur said. "I told my family, but even my close friends, I didn't tell anyone.
"Excited, really lucky that she picked me. I'm pretty glad that I can share the court with her. I always watched Serena playing and always supported her. She's such a legend and such an example for our sport. I'm really nervous to play. I hope the match will be great and we'll have great matches."
The surprise pairing came about after Eric Hechtmann, who has been Venus Williams' coach since 2019 and is now working with Serena as well, reached out to Jabeur's coach Issam Jellali before the French Open to see if there was any interest.
"I don't know why she picked me to be honest. Maybe she watched Madrid," Jabeur said with a laugh.
"I met her a few times outside the court and she was always nice. I remember exchanging pins with her in Rio. I respect her so much."
Jabeur will be just the sixth woman to play doubles with Serena, joining an exclusive club that includes Venus, Martina Navratilova, Alexandra Stevenson, Alison Riske and Caroline Wozniacki. While she has never faced Serena in a match, Jabeur has spent more time on tour in practice and conversation with Venus.
"Ons, I would say, is one of my favorite people on tour," Venus said at Wimbledon last summer. "Honestly she’s just breaking down barriers. The first woman from her country to do anything that she’s doing.
"You’re gonna see a whole other generation of women from North Africa coming into tennis. It’s going to be all owed to her. She’s inspiring so many people, including me. She gives 100% every time, holds herself in a way that she respects and that people can respect."
Jabeur is not taking her partnership with Serena lightly. While she rarely plays doubles, Jabeur teamed with Garbiñe Muguruza in Berlin to get a better feel for the doubles craft. She also spoke to doubles specialists to get as many tips as she could.
"I've been waiting for this moment for a long time. I had to take my time in Berlin, but now it's Eastbourne. I cannot wait for this moment."