Jabeur aims to 'inspire generation' after Arab tennis breakthrough

by Talek HARRIS
Tunisia's Ons Jabeur is enjoying her best performance at a Grand Slam

Tunisia's Ons Jabeur said she hoped to inspire young people across the Arabic-speaking world after she became the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final on Sunday.

The unseeded 25-year-old knocked out China's Wang Qiang, who upset Serena Williams in the previous round, 7-6 (7/4), 6-1 to extend her dream run in Melbourne.

Jabeur, the highest-ranked Arab woman in history -- she reached a career-high 51 last year, and is now 78th -- will next play America's Sofia Kenin in the last eight.

"I'm trying to inspire many (of the) young generation back home either in Tunisia or the Arabic world, especially in Africa, which is amazing," Jabeur said.

"I mean, it's not impossible. I made it. Like I said before, I've been practising in Tunisia from the age of three through 16 or 17. I'm 100 percent Tunisian product."

Africa's number one, the first Tunisian woman to win a main-draw match at the Australian Open, said she had received messages from people watching in the early hours back home.

Selima Sfar is the only other Tunisian woman to win at a Grand Slam after she reached the second round at Wimbledon, Roland Garros and the US Open in the 2000s.

"I'm receiving a lot of messages, especially people waking up at 5 am in the morning to watch my match. I'm really proud," Jabeur said.

"Hopefully they can still watch me and follow more, not just in the Grand Slam but the other tournaments. It will be really amazing. I really hope I can give a good example."

Jabeur's success has not come easy -- Tunisia has been through a period of upheaval surrounding the revolution of 2011, with security parlous for a time.

"It was little bit tough after the revolution. It was not really safe at the time. Now everything, like, is normal," said Jabeur, who now feels she's getting the reward for years of hard work.

"I called my mom right away. She was really, really happy. Probably receiving a lot of calls. My father, as well. I think he was crying, I don't know," she said.

"The family, everyone was behind me. They couldn't go back to sleep again, of course. But I'm happy that I have this support because we've been through rough times.

"Now it's finally paying off."

Tunisia's Ons Jabeur is enjoying her best performance at a Grand Slam