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Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur says she is “pushing for change” in Saudi Arabia and would use a WTA event held there as an opportunity to inspire other women.
The Tunisian tennis star was speaking as the WTA prepares to decide on the location of the WTA Finals, its flagship event, which is due to take place between 30 October and 5 November. Jabeur believes the tournament in the kingdom can enhance opportunities for tennis players throughout the Middle East region.
In a press conference before the US Open, Jabeur was asked to share her opinions on the WTA Finals being held in Saudi Arabia, and she explained, “You know, as an Arab player, I’m very excited to be there. I am someone pushing for change, pushing to give more and more opportunities, especially for women. I know in Saudi, they’re changing things and evolving.”
She added, “I think it’s a great step. I think it’s something that could help the Arab world to have more tennis players, to get more involved in sports.”
She stated that if she qualifies, it would be a great opportunity to play there and meet women who look up to her.
The WTA board is due to vote on its location in New York, with Riyadh, Prague, and Washington among the cities bidding for the event in the next few weeks. Last week, the ATP announced their first event in Saudi Arabia, with this year’s NextGen ATP Finals, an event for players aged under 21 relocating from Milan to Jeddah.
Under an agreement, Saudi Arabia is set to host the men’s tennis tour’s Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah through 2027. In June, WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon said that he and some players had visited in February for an evaluation process that is still ongoing.
As a trailblazer, Jabeur has set a number of records. Among many accolades, she is the former World No. 2 and the first Arab woman to win a WTA Tour title, achieved at the Birmingham Classic in 2021. She has won three trophies, including a Masters at the Madrid Open.
“For me, I was trying to push for tennis in Saudi Arabia,” Jabeur said. “I think it’s a great step and will help the Arab world have more tennis players and get more involved in sports.
“If they play there, and hopefully I qualify, it will be a great honor and opportunity to play, meet a lot of women who tell me they look up to me, and do a lot of great things together.”
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