History will be made at Wimbledon on Saturday with Ons Jabeur and Elena Rybakina attempting to win their first Grand Slam title in the women’s singles final.
The duo had never made it past the quarterfinals of a major before this summer, but SW19 viewers were on their feet applauding their contrasting styles.
Third-seeded Jabeur will be the favorite given her position as world number two and success on Center Court would represent the Tunisian fulfilling her destiny.
She would become the first woman from an Arab country and the African continent to win a Grand Slam singles title.
“Many times I imagined myself giving a good speech, holding the trophy, seeing the trophy, I did it all,” Jabeur revealed after Thursday’s victory over her good friend Tatjana Maria in the semifinals.
“Now I really need to hold the trophy, that’s the only thing left for me, but I believe in it. I know I can do it”.
The goal of winning Wimbledon only really started for Jabeur in 2021 when she enjoyed an impressive run to the quarter-finals, beating Venus Williams, Garbine Muguruza and Iga Swiatek along the way.
And the 27-year-old has picked up where she left off with her full repertoire of shots shown over the past two weeks.
Jabeur added: “The dream started last year when I enjoyed playing here, I enjoyed the crowd. I haven’t played that many Wimbledons before. Usually it was the first and second round.
“It is difficult to play on the grass. I knew I was playing well on the grass because of my game and all that. But last year, Melanie, my mental coach, reminded me, I told her I would come back next year for the title, when I lost in the quarterfinals.
“I love everything around here, the atmosphere and everything. It was my main goal since the beginning of the season, and even since last year. I love being here.”
Rybakina is also attempting to make history by becoming the first player from Kazakhstan to win a Grand Slam, but her appearance in the final is not without controversy.
The 23-year-old was born and raised in Russia and played under her native country’s flag until 2018, when the lure of increased funding from Kazakhstan saw her switch international allegiance.
In a year when Russians and Belarusians are banned from Wimbledon due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there is now a distinct possibility that Moscow-born Rybakina will receive the trophy on Saturday from the Duchess of Cambridge.
On the prospect of meeting Kate, Rybakina said, “It sure is an honor and I will be very excited for this moment no matter if I win or lose. I think it’s something to remember and it’s going to be amazing.”
Rybakina had flown under the radar this summer, but it was after beating Ajla Tomljanovic in the quarterfinals that her Russian background came under scrutiny.
The 17th seed called for the war in Ukraine to “stop as soon as possible”, but questions about her supposed continued residence in Moscow, following a fine last-four win over Simona Halep, were answered coyly.
She replied, “I think I base it on the tour because I travel every week.”
Rybakina is known for displaying a lack of emotion on the court, but her run to the Wimbledon final has brought a smile to her face.
“I mean, I’m smiling (now),” he laughed during Thursday’s news conference.
“I really don’t know how I’m going to react (if I win) because I believe in myself. We worked a lot with my team to get through.
“I didn’t expect that I was going to be here in the second week, especially in the final, but I think I have a game to go far in the Grand Slams and of course I thought maybe one day. you can win it.”