TUNIS: Tunisia will organise an official reception for tennis player Ons Jabeur after she became the first Arab to reach a Grand Slam singles final at Wimbledon, the country’s sport minister said on Friday.
The 27-year-old third seed, dubbed the Minister of Happiness in her homeland, also became the first African woman to reach the showpiece match at the All England Club after her 6-2 3-6 6-1 victory over close friend Tatjana Maria on Thursday.
“Tunisians have forgotten their problems, all are proud of Ons… She is really the Minister of Happiness,” said sports minister Kamel Deguich.
Tunisians are suffering from a bad economic situation, while public finances are about to collapse, amid a severe political crisis since President Kais Saied seized control of the executive power and then dissolved the parliament.
But Jabeur’s success on court has at least given many Tunisians some respite from bad news.
“There will be an official reception at the highest level and a huge popular reception for Ons upon her return to Tunisia,” Deguich said.
The minister added he will travel to London to attend the final on Saturday.
Jabeur has been a trailblazer throughout her career, last year becoming the first Arab player to win a WTA title, the first to crack the top 10 in the world rankings and the first to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.
She has moved up a level this year and said that Wimbledon was a particular focus for her, surprising given that as a child learning the game she never even saw a grass court and her ambition was to win the French Open.