Ons Jabeur should have been the more-prepared player for the Wimbledon women’s singles final.
She’d played in the decider the year before and been the world’s best player on grass since 2021.
But from the warm-up to the final point the heavy favourite allowed nerves to cost her another chance at her first grand slam as Marketa Vondrousova created history with a 6-4 6-4 win.
In bizarre scenes, Jabeur was kicked off centre court during her pre-match hit after entering the court in a black training top.
All England Tennis Club rules state “competitors must be dressed in suitable tennis attire that is almost entirely white and this applies from the point at which the player enters the court surround” but Jabeur appeared to forget.
“Ons was wearing all black on Centre Court and they kicked her off,” three-time Wimbledon singles champion Chris Evert told the BBC.
“They kicked her off and made her put on white clothes.
“At Wimbledon you have to wear white! Even in the final of Wimbledon. I thought that was interesting.”
It led to frustration from fans. “How in the world did Jabeur’s team allow her to go out wearing black? After all, this is her second time being in the final? This kind of interruption or departure from her routine can’t have helped,” one wrote.
“This women’s final is another, perfect example of how expectations dominate tennis,” added another. “Ons Jabeur was expected to win, by everyone including herself probably (then) wears black to the warm up (and) shows up 10 minutes early. Pressure makes your legs freeze and mind go nuts. Unreal.”
Jabeur couldn’t have asked for a better opponent as she attempted to atone for last year’s defeat against Elena Rybakina.
Vondrousova entered this grass court season with a 2-10 record on the surface and had one solitary win from her four previous appearances at Wimbledon.
So unexpected was her run that she told her husband Stepan Simek to stay at home in Prague to look after their cat Frankie until the final, when a pet sitter was found to allow her partner to make the trip to Wimbledon.
Jabeur led 2-0 and 4-2 in the first set on Saturday before Vondrousova hit back to become the lowest-ranked and first unseeded woman to win Wimbledon.
“I think I’m gonna have some beer … it was an exhausting two weeks,” she said.
The Tunisian’s 15 unforced errors in the first set were key as the Czech left-hander committed a miserly six.
Jabeur was 3-1 ahead in the second set but still couldn’t convert the advantage as Vondrousova, who missed last year’s Wimbledon due to wrist surgery, mounted another comeback.
“It’s painful because you feel so close to achieving something that you want, and actually back to square one,” added Jabeur.
“Again, I just try to get rid of these negative thoughts and continue being positive.”
Nick Kyrgios defied Wimbledon’s rules last season, wearing a red Nike cap after matches on his way to finishing runner up to Novak Djokovic.
But women’s players rejoiced last season when Wimbledon announced it was finally allowing female players to wear dark undergarments.
It came after players including Australia’s Daria Saville revealed she had to skip periods in order to participate in the event.
“It’s true,” Saville said. “I had to skip my period around Wimbledon, for the reason that I didn’t want to worry about bleeding through, as we already have enough other stress.”
– with staff writers, AFP
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