How much did Ons Jabeur want to win Wimbledon? She has spent the entirety of the 2022 season with the Venus Rosewater Dish as the lock-screen on her phone. After falling one set short of the Wimbledon title Saturday, losing 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 to 17th seed Elena Rybakina, Jabeur could only laugh.
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"Apparently I should have put the other [trophy]," she told reporters after the match.
"You know, that's tennis. There is only one winner. But it's a great first experience for me. I'm looking forward for my next finals. I'm sure I will learn a lot from this one. But a positive two weeks for me. I'm just going to keep my head high."
Don't stop believing, @Ons_Jabeur #Wimbledon pic.twitter.com/J2FDlsnNw4— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 9, 2022
Jabeur, 27, already made history by walking on Centre Court on Saturday. She was the first Tunisian, Arab or African woman in the Open Era to make a Slam singles final. But after racing through the first set, Jabeur could not break through Rybakina's serve, as tour's ace leader saved 7-of-7 break points in the final two sets to keep Jabeur's at bay.
"It is frustrating to play someone that serves really big and doesn't give you the chance sometimes to take that break," Jabeur said. "I just was telling myself, like, 'This is not over, I trust you.' I even said, 'I love you,' to myself during the match.
"It wasn't meant to be."
Before Wimbledon, Jabeur had yet to progress past the quarterfinal stage at a major. Though she came into Wimbledon off the back of her second title of the season in Berlin, she had lost in the first round of Roland Garros after a similarly strong run-up.
Once No.1 Iga Swiatek bowed out in the third round, Jabeur became a strong favorite for the title. She managed her draw well to book her first appearance in a major final. Her loss to Rybakina was her first on grass in over a year.
"I'm very glad with my results," Jabeur said. "I don't regret anything. I gave it all today. A final, I lose so many at the beginning [of my career], then step back and win one more.
"I don't disbelieve in myself and I know that I'm going to come back and win a Grand Slam, for sure. This is tennis, and it's part of it. I have to learn from it, definitely. But I'm very, very positive about it."
I hope to have inspired Tunisia, the African continent and the Arab world throughout my Wimbledon journey. I'll be back on Centre Court! Keep dreaming young girl 🍓— Ons Jabeur (@Ons_Jabeur) July 9, 2022
Eid Mubarak to all muslims around the world ✨ pic.twitter.com/gj1dRWPDlo
Jabeur will return to competition at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, California. Her current plan is a solid hard-court block -- after San Jose she will play back-to-back WTA 1000s in Toronto and Cincinnati -- leading into the final Slam of the season at the US Open.
Jabeur, Rybakina, Gauff lead stacked field in San Jose
"I really cannot wait to play my next tournament, especially that I'm going to the States, and I know there is a lot of crazy fans there," Jabeur said.
"This is just the beginning of so many things. I'm very positive about it. I wanted really bad that title. Maybe because I want it too much, I didn't have it."
But first, some much-deserved downtime for Jabeur back home in Tunisia. Jabeur's run to the Wimbledon final inspired a nation, a region, and a continent, and she's been promised quite the welcome when she returns.
"I did everything since the beginning of the year to really focus on this tournament," Jabeur said. "I even have the trophy picture on my phone. But it wasn't meant to be.
"I cannot force things. I'm not ready for it probably to be a Grand Slam champion. I wait to look forward for the next one."