Ons Jabeur was overpowered in last year’s Wimbledon final against Elena Rybakina. She faced a very different challenge this time around when she took on the Czech Marketa Vondrousova. It seemed like a a better matchup for the skilful Tunisian.
It did not prove to be, however, as the Czech won 6-4 6-4. It was a remarkable achievement for Vondrousova, who this time last year was recovering from a wrist surgery that had her arm in a plaster cast. But she clearly thrives when facing adversity, having to rally from behind several times during her run to the final.
She did the same against Jabeur in the final, recovering from a break down in both sets in what was a seesawing clash. Jabeur, with the crowd firmly on her side, had plenty of opportunities to take control of the match, but proved to be unable to take her chances when it mattered most as she fell to defeat in a Grand Slam final for the the third time. The Tunisian was visibly emotional in her runners-up speech, but pledged to the crowd, her team and herself, that she would continue trying to get over the line in a Major final.
For Vondrousova, however, this victory will wipe away the frustration of her defeat in Paris four years ago, and demonstrates that her run at Roland Garros was far from a flash in the pan. It remains to be seen whether Vondrousova can establish herself as a force at the top of the women’s game, with Iga Swiatek sure to come again when the tour returns to hard courts later in the summer and Aryna Sabalenka enjoying a fine season.
But if there are plenty of challenges to come over the next few weeks, for now Vondrousova can enjoy a well-deserved victory and her newfound status as a Grand Slam champion, becoming the first unseeded player to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish in the Open Era.
Main photo credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports