Tunisian tennis star Ons Jabeur Shows full support for WTA tournament in Saudi Arabia


Ons Jabeur, the prominent Tunisian player, has expressed her unwavering support for the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) in their consideration of hosting a tournament in Saudi Arabia. Jabeur, who was the Wimbledon runner-up last year, stands as the most influential Arab player in the sport, and her backing of the WTA’s interest in the Gulf state is seen as a significant boost to the governing body.

Following her decisive victory against Magdalena Frech in the first round of Wimbledon, Jabeur asserted, “If it benefits the players, I’m 100 percent there. I hope in Saudi they will not just invest with ATP, I hope with WTA (as well).” The statement comes amidst WTA chief executive Steve Simon’s recent announcement that the organization is actively considering the possibility of bringing tennis to Saudi Arabia, which could potentially include hosting the prestigious end-of-season WTA Championships.

Despite accusations of attempting to “sportswash” their human rights record, Saudi Arabia has been expanding its global sporting involvement in recent years. Apart from expressing interest in women’s tennis, the country’s Public Investment Fund has had “positive” discussions with ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi about a potential deal for the men’s tour, drawing criticism from tennis legends John McEnroe and Chris Evert.

However, Jabeur stands firmly behind Saudi Arabia’s efforts to promote women’s rights and highlighted the significant progress being made in the country. “I believe in Saudi they’re doing great giving women more rights. It’s time to change things,” she said passionately, adding, “Believe it or not, we have the best two women in the Arabic world right now playing in tennis (herself and Egypt’s Mayar Sherif). It’s now or never. I hope they really invest in WTA.”

While some have raised concerns about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in sports, Jabeur expressed optimism and believes that the situation in tennis would differ from other sports like golf, where the country has made headlines with its financing of the divisive rebel LIV series. Drawing from her experience, she remarked, “I think is a completely different situation than golf. I went to Saudi last year and I was very impressed with the people there. I believe it could be a great idea to go there and play tournaments. Let’s see what the deal will be. I hope they will see us for players, not just an investment but to give us more benefits than what we’re having right now.”

Jabeur, currently seeded sixth at Wimbledon, will be facing either Belgium’s Ysaline Bonaventure or China’s Zhouxian Bai in her quest to secure a place in the last 32 of the tournament. Her support for the potential WTA tournament in Saudi Arabia reflects the growing interest and opportunities for women’s tennis in the region.

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