Jabeur: "I hope to keep shining for myself and Tunisia"

Ons Jabeur has plans for Wimbledon again, Andy Murray looks for closure and Barclays is in hot water

Welcome back for another edition of the Tennis Sweet Spot newsletter! Today, we’re checking in with the Minister of Happiness, aka Ons Jabeur. Yes, that’s what they call her in Tunisia. We’ll also check on Andy Murray’s spine and Aryna Sabalenka’s shoulder. Don’t forget to scroll to take advantage of the referral program (more to come soon about that!).

Ons Jabeur: “I hope to keep shining for myself and Tunisia”

Sport Celebrate GIF by Wimbledon

Gif by wimbledon on Giphy

Ons Jabeur left Wimbledon in tears last year after losing a second final. She returns this month to try to get her hands on that trophy and can already count on incredible support. Jabeur and Wimbledon is the fairytale waiting for that perfect ending to happen, and you can feel people rooting for it. I caught up with the Tunisian on the eve of the event.

So many people are saying, ‘Oh, I hope it will be for Ons this year.’ Have you noticed this?
Yes, a lot, actually! I feel a lot of love coming back here from the fans, the staff, and the members. It’s always such a joy to be here. That’s also why I love that tournament: I feel at ease, and I get respect here. After last year’s final, I could feel that the dream of winning Wimbledon wasn’t only mine anymore but also the dream of many people. It has become crucial for me to win Wimbledon, and it’s a good thing. I hope to be able to take all the good vibes sent by the people so that maybe one day I can succeed.

How do you find a way to keep smiling despite coming back here under such pressure?
Yes, for sure, it’s a lot of pressure, but I try to work on myself a lot. When negative thoughts come through, I try to turn them into positive ones. I enjoy playing on grass a lot, but I’m not sure why. It’s a very special surface for me, sometimes reminding me of when I played football! Wimbledon may remind me of my childhood because I played football so much with my brothers and sister.

Last year, after you lost, we wondered how you would bounce back from that. And yet you’re here with a smile one year later: Is it already a victory?
You always need to smile! I’m grateful for everything life has brought me. Also, it’s essential not to forget what’s most important: tennis is an extraordinary sport, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. One day, I’ll stop playing, so I prefer to keep my smile on and first be a happy human being.

You decided to pass on the Olympic Games in Paris… For once, reason took over your heart?
Yes, for once in my career, I’m putting my health first. If I push too hard and injure my knee again, it will be the end of my career, and I don’t want it to happen now, as I still have many goals to reach. The Olympic Games are a huge event, even more so at Roland-Garros, but playing clay demands a lot, physically. It was a very difficult decision, but at the same time, I play for my country every week, which is a pleasure, so I hope to keep shining for myself and Tunisia.

Andy Murray wants “closure”

The biggest question coming back every day at Wimbledon lately is, “Did you see Andy on the practice schedule?” It’s The Murray Watch. And when he practices, it goes to, “How did he look?” As of right now, as I write these lines, Andy Murray is still in the draw, and so he is still supposed to play his potential last match at Wimbledon on Tuesday. After his training session on Monday, he told the press that he would decide tonight after talking to his family. So, the watch goes on. We’ve already stated here how unfair this situation seemed and how Murray would have deserved a better farewell.

But it is what it is, and so now we’re all waiting to see if Sir Andrew Murray will retire at Wimbledon in singles, in doubles, or if it’ll be postponed to the Olympics or after. Imagining Murray going back to clay with that back isn’t the most comfortable tennis thought right now.

The main question on a lot of people’s lips is this one: Andy, why? Why is Murray, who has won nearly everything there is to win, doing this to his body and mind right now? Well, because there’s no way he can peacefully close that tennis chapter without trying one last time to play on that Centre Court. He explained it during his press conference on Sunday.

Happy Andy Murray GIF by US Open

Gif by usopen on Giphy

“This is a place that’s obviously been really good to me over the years. I guess in the last few years, Serena [Williams] finished playing, Roger [Federer] finished playing, and Rafa [Nadal] obviously has spoken a lot recently about the struggles he’s gone through. Everyone has their idea of how they want to finish their career, how they would want it to go. I would have seen that happening probably at Wimbledon. Obviously I have the Olympics coming up. But I would love the opportunity to play here one more time. That’s what I’m looking to get out of it. Whether afterwards I feel like it was the right thing to do or not, I don’t know. But right now I feel like I want that opportunity. I’m hoping for a bit of closure. I just want the opportunity to play one more time out there hopefully on Centre Court and feel that buzz. It’s coming to the end of my career and I want to have that opportunity to play here again.”

Closure. The thing that every professional player, whatever his achievements, is chasing when the time has come to hang the racquets. Closure isn’t a thing to take for granted, as we’ve seen with Federer and see again now with Murray. But for it, what wouldn’t they do? Well, Murray is ready to try and play despite not fully feeling one leg.

“I have just been trying to do everything that I can to try to get ready to start the tournament here. I don’t know if that’s going to be enough. I’ve been practising for the last few days. I played a set today. It went pretty well, but I still don’t have 100 percent feeling and sensation in my leg yet. I have no back pain, which is obviously really good. But the nature of the problem was that I had quite a large cyst, which was compressing my nerves, which then obviously lost not all, but a lot, of control in my right leg. (…) How long that takes to regain its full sort of function again is impossible to say. For some people it takes months, for some people it’s weeks.” Murray is trying to go for days instead. And, honestly, that is so Andy.

Sabalenka in the unknown

Happy French Open GIF by Roland-Garros

Gif by Roland-Garros on Giphy

Aryna Sabalenka’s rest of season suddenly looks very uncertain. The Australian Open champion had to withdraw, on Monday, from Wimbledon where she reched the semi-finals last year, due to a right shoulder injury. The same injury that made her retire from her match in Berlin.

We're doing everything we can with my team to make sure I'll be able to play my first match here,” she had told the press on Sunday. “I’m not 100% ready.” The situation is tricky because she says the injury is rare and only affects her serve. Which is a massive issue when one knows her game. “It's really a specific injury, and it's really a rare one. Probably I'm just the second or the third tennis player who injured that muscle. The most annoying thing is that I can do anything. I can practice, I can hit my groundstrokes. I'm struggling with serving. That's really annoying. You don't feel like you're injured. If you give me some weights, I'm going to go lift some weights. But if you tell me to serve, I'm going to go through pain. But I still have my hopes.”

Well, the hopes for Wimbledon are now defeated. Sabalenka had already decided not to play at the Olympics, so she now gets some time to try to recover, but the treatment plan doesn’t seem straightforward. Overall, it was quite the Monday regarding withdrawals as Victoria Azarenka also had to give up on her Wimbledon because of a shoulder injury, Ekaterina Alexandrova withdrew due to illness, and Pablo Carreno Busta because of a leg injury.

Is it too much now?

You were 72,73% to tell me that you don’t think how a champion retires matters.

Do you feel the game has become too hard on the players' bodies?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Wimbledon under pressure regarding their Barclays collaboration

Tennis Attention GIF by Wimbledon

Gif by wimbledon on Giphy

Climate groups and anti-war activists are focusing on Wimbledon, which has nothing to do with the provenance of the strawberries. They’re raising the pressure on the tournament by demanding the event to drop Barclays as a sponsor. Why? They say, “The bank is using the event to “cover up its role” in funding the climate crisis and to “hide from accountability for its role in enabling Israel’s war crimes.”

The Guardian reports that Barclays is Europe’s biggest fossil fuel financier, having invested $235bn (£186bn) since 2016. A report by the Campaign Against Arms Trade claimed the bank held about £2bn in shares in eight companies that provide weapons, components and other military equipment to Israel.” Live Nation recently dropped the bank, facing the same pressure.

Barclays is contesting its role in the providing of weapons, arguing they’re only providing “financial services”. And Wimbledon is for now stating that the bank remains “an important partner.” Yet, it’s not helping the situation to calm down as more than 300 public adverts near the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club have been covered with spoof posters mimicking advertising for Wimbledon and Barclays in a guerrilla action carried out by the campaign group Brandalism,” reports The Guardian.

Evert and Navratilova, always a team

Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova had a press conference at Wimbledon on Sunday to discuss the upcoming documentary centered around their relationship throughout and after their illustrious careers.

Asked why making this now, Navratilova first had a trait of humor and said: “Because we’re getting old.” A bit earlier, she had another one, saying: “Now people woke up, ‘Maybe you should do a documentary on Chris and Martina - before they die I guess’ (laughter).” But both agreed that their goal with this documentary was to inspire people to take their health seriously. “To be competing like that, to come out kind of with a really special friendship, is one thing. But I think also the fact that we both had cancer, just we have the ability and the opportunity to get some messages, very important life messages, health messages, out there, like genetic testing. Get your testing, take care of all of your medical appointments that you have. You're your own advocate, “ said Evert.

How much vegemite would that buy?

A study by Nielsen Sports reveals that the state of Victoria received AUS$ 533,2 million from the Australian Open. It’s estimated that the Grand Slam event has generated over three billion dollars for Victoria over the last decade.

Kasatkina on a roll

  • Daria Kasatkina loves the clay; we all know that, but is she now a grass queen? It seems so! She delivered a solid week to clinch the title in Eastbourne - her first trophy on that surface - and then won her first round at Wimbledon. The most famous YouTuber of the WTA is now close to getting back into the Top 10 (#12), reminiscing about the form that saw her reach the quarter-finals of Wimbledon in 2018.

  • Alejandro Tabilo, who reached the semi-finals in Rome this year, made history for Chili in Mallorca as he became the first player of his country to win a title on grass in the Open Era. He’s now in the Top 20 for the first time (#19).

  • Maria Sharapova is back at Wimbledon. 20 years after her triumph, the former World No.1 was seen on the grounds with her son and her fiancé, a big smile on her face as she was stopped by the many people happy to see her again. It’s been 20 years?! Surely not…


WATCH: Williams Sisters on Amazon Prime. There are no Venus and no Serena in Wimbledon’s draw for the first time since 1996, but you can still catch up on their legacy by watching that 53’ documentary released last year.

READ: Chris Marshall’s column for The Guardian about the lack of diversity in British tennis. “Where are the Marcus Rashfords of British tennis? The truth is they’re still not welcome”, the level 4 senior performance coach, and the co-founder of G Tennis and Young Champs says.

LISTEN TO: Billie Jean King on the rise of women’s sports, in a discussion with Front Office Sports.