Tunisian tennis star Ons Jabeur has told BBC Sport Africa the cancellation of Wimbledon has left her “confused” about the remainder of the season. The 25-year-old, a rising star up to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, has reached a career-high ranking of 39, and said she was “feeling pretty sad” after the All England Club announced the cancellation of this year’s championships.
She reflected on the latest developments from New York, where she is currently staying.
“I’m actually feeling pretty sad about cancelling Wimbledon – I mean this is one of my favourite tournaments, and normally grass is good for my game,” Jabeur told BBC Sport Africa.
“Honestly, I’m disappointed they took this decision. And I’m pretty confused about what it’s going to do for the season now, since Wimbledon will not count.
“How is it going to be possible to just play in one Grand Slam or two now? I don’t know how it’s going to work.
“Hopefully, the other Grand Slams will not be cancelled. Let’s hope for the best.”
The popular Tunisian enjoyed a strong start to the 2020 season, reaching her first Grand Slam quarter-final in Australia.
She beat former world number one Caroline Wozniacki on the way in amatch which ended Wozniacki’s career.
Jabeur added that the constraints of social distancing mean that maintaining her fitness is a challenge.
“I’m in New York right now – I’m kind of stuck here,” she said.
“We are allowed to go running. So I go running.
“I’m mostly doing a lot of exercises at home. But since it’s a little bit small, I try not to.
“I’m just doing my best. I cannot play tennis right now unfortunately. Let’s see how this will go.”
Jabeur’s rise up the rankings has thrilled tennis fans in Africa. She is also the first Arab woman to reach the world’s top 50.
She said her friends and family in Tunisia and across the world are in her thoughts.
“I’m speaking to my parents almost every day,” she said.
“They’re safe – they’re staying home, following what should be done. My brother and sister are in Paris and Germany so they’re also pretty much locked down since it’s very strict in Europe.
“I hope everybody’s safe. I don’t think anybody’s going out just to walk or anything – only for necessary things. And for me, it’s just for running or groceries – that’s what I usually do.”
The Tunisian’s success has brought her huge support from back home and beyond, where she is inspiring others to take up the sport.
“For everyone who’s following me in Africa, or Tunisia or in the Arab world – it’s a shame that this season has stopped for now – after my performance at the Australian Open.
“I have no idea when we’ll be back. But honestly, I’m really glad the fans are following me. I want to thank them a lot for being there for me, sending me messages.
“I’m really thankful to be part of Africa and hopefully I can do more to inspire a lot of young generations and send a good message.”