History makers, Ons Jabeur and Elena Rybakina will meet in the Wimbledon final after the pair claimed impressive victories in the last four.
Tunisian third seed Jabeur became the first Arab player to reach a Grand Slam singles final with a 6-2 3-6 6-1 win over Tatjana Maria, while Rybakina became the first singles player from Kazakhstan to reach a major final with a 6-3 6-3 dismantling of former champion Simona Halep.
Jabeur has become a favourite at Wimbledon, and she and good friend Maria thrilled the crowd, before sharing a long and loving embrace at the net as Jabeur secured victory.
Ranked second in the world, Jabeur is the first African woman to reach a major final since South Africa’s Sandra Reynolds at Wimbledon in 1960.
“It is a dream come true after years and years of work and sacrifice,” said Jabeur.
“I’m really happy it is paying off and now there is one more match to come.”
She and world number 23 Rybakina, who is the fourth-lowest ranked player to reach the Wimbledon final since 1984, will meet on Centre Court in a match-up of two first-time Grand Slam finalists.
While Rybakina’s progression has gone under the radar, she outmuscled former world number one Halep with relative ease.
“I think it’s going to be a great match against Ons Jabeur she’s a great player, very tricky player – it’s not going to be easy to play against her drop shots and volleys,” Rybakina said.
“I think it will be a great match – I think I already did the work so it’s time to enjoy it out on court.”
Born in Russia, she has represented Kazakhstan since 2018 after they offered her more financial support and will now bid to become the country’s first player to win a major singles trophy.
Russian players were banned by Wimbledon from competing this year after the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Asked about her Russian background, the Moscow-born player said: “I’ve been playing for Kazakhstan for a long time. I’m really happy representing Kazakhstan. They believed in me.
“There is no more question about how I feel.”
Jabeur’s story is one of an inspirational late bloomer who lacked patience in her younger days before finding the right mentality to complement her talent.
That has enabled her to win WTA tournaments, rise up the rankings and regularly break down barriers.
Known as the ‘Minister of Happiness’ in her country, Jabeur is a popular figure in Tunisia, the Arab world and Africa as she continues to be a trailblazer.
“I’m a proud Tunisian woman here today and I know in Tunisia they are going crazy right now,” she said.
“I try to inspire as much as I can and I want to see more Arab and African players on the tour.”