Ons Jabeur joined in good company on a Sunday in Berlin. By winning her second title of the season at bett1openJaber joined Ashleigh Barty and Ega Sweetek as the only players to win titles as the No. 1 seed this season. The 27-year-old will rise to the professional rankings at No. 3 on Monday and continue to sit firmly behind Swiatek for second in the race to the WTA Finals.
As if Jabeur’s outstanding season didn’t already check all the boxes, her next headline-grabbing assignment will be to team up with Serena Williams in doubles at Rothesay International in Eastbourne, England this week. When the Tunisian-American duo take the court in their first-round match against Marie Bozkova and Sarah Sorribes-Turmo, it will be Serena’s first match on the WTA holographic tour in nearly 12 months.
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“I wanted to tell everyone but obviously I can’t,” Jaber said. “I told my family, but even my closest friends, I didn’t tell anyone.
“Excited, really lucky that she chose me. I am so happy to be able to share the pitch with her. I always watched Serena play and always support her. She is a legend and an example for our sport. I am really nervous to play. I hope the match will be great and we will have great matches.”
The surprise duo came after Eric Hechtman, who has coached Venus Williams since 2019 and now works with Serena as well, reached out to Jaber coach Issam Jalali ahead of the French Open to see if there was any interest.
“I don’t know why she chose me to be honest,” Jaber said, laughing. “Maybe I’ve seen Madrid.”
“I met her a few times outside the stadium and she was always nice. I remember exchanging pins with her in Rio. I respect her very much.”
Jaber will be the sixth woman to play doubles with Serena, joining an exclusive club that includes Venus, Martina Navratilova, Alexandra Stevenson, Alison Risky and Caroline Wozniacki. While she’s never faced Serena in a match, Jabeur has spent more time on a run in practice and chatting with Venus.
“I would say Ons is one of my favorite people on the tour,” Venus said at Wimbledon last summer. “Honestly, she breaks down barriers. The first woman from her country to do anything she does.
“You will see a whole other generation of North African women getting into tennis. It will all owe to her. She inspires a lot of people, including me. She gives 100% every time, sticking to herself in a way that she respects and people can respect.”
Jaber does not underestimate her partnership with Serena. While she rarely plays doubles, Jabeur teamed up with Garbiñe Muguruza in Berlin to get a better feel for the doubles craft. I also spoke to doubles specialists to get as many tips as possible.
“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 can’t wait for this moment.”