Marketa Vondrousova wins Wimbledon as Ons Jabeur falls at last hurdle again
Czech Vondrousova claimed a 6-4 6-4 victory under the roof on Centre Court.
Marketa Vondrousova defeated favourite Ons Jabeur in straight sets to make history as the first unseeded women’s singles champion at Wimbledon.
There have been a string of surprise slam winners in a period of flux for the women’s game but Wimbledon had been the exception until now, with Czech Vondrousova taking advantage of a nervous performance from Jabeur to claim a 6-4 6-4 victory.
The irony is it comes at a time when a new big three comprising of Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka and last year’s Wimbledon winner Elena Rybakina have established themselves at the top of the game.
Jabeur certainly deserves to be in the conversation, too, given this was her third final appearance at the last five slams and that she accounted for Rybakina and Sabalenka in the previous two rounds.
The Tunisian admitted ahead of facing Rybakina that it was still too painful to watch last year’s final and she desperately wanted to make it third time lucky and become the first north African and Arab grand slam singles champion.
Jabeur was slapping her thigh in frustration as early as the third game and in the end was simply not able to find that composure that she needed.
Both the sixth seed and Vondrousova possess a box of tricks, preferring to dissect opponents using slices, drop shots and lobs rather than trying to bully from the baseline.
The roof was closed despite conditions being dry, meaning the high winds forecast would not be a factor, and Vondrousova took full advantage to land a perfect lob on to the baseline on the first point.
But, with the Princess of Wales and tennis royalty Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King watching from the front row of the Royal Box, it was Jabeur who claimed the early advantage.
She used her extra power to move into a 4-2 lead only for Vondrousova, who had won both their previous matches this year, to reel off four games in a row and claim the opening set.
Jabeur’s legs and arms were clearly stricken by tension and she headed off court for a bathroom break. She could not free herself up, though, and dropped serve immediately at the start of the second set.
Jabeur is a real crowd favourite everywhere and Centre Court roared as she fought back from 40-0 to break the Vondrousova serve before opening up a 3-1 lead.
The Czech had her own supporters, including husband Stepan Simek, who had passed over the responsibility of looking after their cat Frankie to fly to London for the final.
This was not the 24-year-old’s first time on such a stage having burst through as a 19-year-old at the French Open in 2019 before losing in the final to Ashleigh Barty.
Injuries had prevented her building on that, and she came to London as a tourist last summer during Wimbledon with her wrist in a cast after two operations.
Just eight months ago, she was ranked outside the top 100 and winning a title in the rather less glamorous surroundings of The Shrewsbury Club in Shropshire.
But Vondrousova has reminded the tennis world this season of what a supremely talented player she is and back she came to level before breaking the Jabeur serve again at 4-4.
A double fault on her first match point betrayed a hint of nerves but she put away a cool volley on the second before dropping to the court in stunned celebration.
Vondrousova climbed up the stands to hug her team in the players’ box, while Jabeur sat disconsolately in her chair.
After receiving the trophy, she said: “I don’t know what’s happening now.
“Ons, congratulations, you’re such an inspiration for all of us, I hope you are going to win one day.
“After everything I’ve been through – I had a cast on this time last year – and now I can’t believe I’m holding this trophy.”
Jabeur, last year’s losing finalist as well, broke down in tears after receiving her runners-up trophy from the Princess of Wales.
“This is very tough. It’s the most painful loss of my career,” she said.
“Congratulations to Marketa and her team. You are an amazing player, I know you had a lot of injuries and I’m very happy for you.
“It’s going to be a tough day for me today but I’m not going to give up. I’m going to come back stronger.
“I promise I’ll come back one day and win this tournament.”