In a significant development, Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur has received an Order of Merit by Tunisian President Kais Saied on Thursday for her remarkable sporting success at this year's Wimbledon. Notably, Jabeur was defeated by Russian-born Elena Rybakina last weekend in the women's singles final.
While bestowing Ons Jabeur with the country's Great Medal of National Order of Merit, Saied hailed the tennis star for raising the country's flag in international sporting events and termed her as the ambassador of Tunisia. He further congratulated her on her historic success and wished her "great luck" for her future contest. Widely popular as 'Minister of Happiness' by Tunisian fans, Jabeur hopes to inspire other Arab and African players to succeed in the game of tennis.
"I want to convey more hope to the tennis aspirant who watched me. I hope to continue this momentum. I am proud to be Tunisian and continue to do well at prestigious competitions to put Tunisia on the world map," she said after receiving the honor.
Notably, Jabeur became the first Arab and African woman to reach a Grand Slam final, but she also has the distinction of being the first African woman to reach a major final in the Open Era. Ons Jabeur started the summit-clash on a positive note as she won the first set by 6-3, but could not repeat her performance in next two sets as she bowed down to Kazakhstan counterpart Elena Rybakina, who clinched the women's title at Wimbledon 6-2, 6-2.
However, Ons Jabeur's performance in the competition earned massive praise from former world number 1 Victoria Azarenka as the latter claimed the new world number 2 'best thing' happened to tennis. In her Twitter post, Victoria wrote, "One of the best things that happened to tennis Ons Jabeur. Keep shining and sharing your light with the world! Biggest inspiration to so many!!!."
Apart from Victoria, former seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander said Jabeur reaching to the Wimbledon final was the biggest highlight of the year. "She transcends tennis into the living room of North Africa, Tunisia, the African continent, but in general she is such a likeable character," he quoted.