In a surprising turn of events at Wimbledon, Marketa Vondrousova ranked 42nd in the world, secured a remarkable victory over Ons Jabeur to claim her first-ever Grand Slam title. The Czech player triumphed with a 6-4, 6-4 win on Centre Court, leaving Ons Jabeur to endure her second consecutive defeat in a Wimbledon final.
Vondrousova’s Path to Victory
Since reaching her first Grand Slam final at the French Open four years ago, women’s tennis has witnessed significant changes. With the retirement of top players from previous generations and the emergence of new contenders, it remained uncertain whether Vondrousova, a talented and unique left-handed player from the Czech Republic, would fulfill the promise she showed as a 19-year-old in Paris.
Her breakthrough came unexpectedly, considering her poor record of 2-10 on grass courts at the start of the grass-court season just a month ago. However, none of that mattered on Saturday afternoon as the unseeded Czech completed a magical two weeks by defeating the sixth-seeded Ons Jabeur to become Wimbledon’s first unseeded women’s champion in the Open era.
Vondrousova’s path to the title included victories over five seeded opponents. She now joins the esteemed group of Czech female players who have established themselves at the top of the sport, following in the footsteps of Jana Novotna and Petra Kvitova as Wimbledon champions.
Ons Jabeur’s Struggles and Vondrousova’s Tactics
The match showcased not only Vondrousova’s cunning approach and nerves of steel but also Ons Jabeur’s inability to handle the pressure of the moment. Ons Jabeur had played some outstanding tennis throughout the tournament, claiming incredible victories over title favorites like Kvitova, Elena Rybakina, and Aryna Sabalenka.
However, when faced with the opportunity to become the first African woman or Arab player to win a Grand Slam title, Jabeur couldn’t summon her best tennis under pressure.
In tennis, matchups play a crucial role, and Vondrousova’s game can be particularly challenging when she’s in full flow. Her defense, left-handed angles, variety, and ability to keep the ball low on the grass presented a completely different challenge compared to the three consecutive power hitters Ons Jabeur had faced earlier in the tournament.
Vondrousova not only made Ons Jabeur work harder to finish points but also constantly put her in difficult positions on the court.
Ons Jabeur’s Early Lead and Vondrousova’s Comeback
In her third Grand Slam final within the past five major tournaments, Ons Jabeur appeared to settle quickly as she broke Vondrousova’s serve in the opening game. However, Vondrousova quickly caught up. With her relentless scrambling and the constant pressure she applied, Ons Jabeur’s errors began to multiply.
She found herself unable to adjust and lost four consecutive games from a 4-2 lead, surrendering the first set without much resistance.
Although Ons Jabeur took a bathroom break between sets to regroup, she couldn’t shake off her tightness and errors, immediately dropping her serve and falling behind 1-0 in the second set. However, she managed to find her rhythm, executing a superb angled backhand passing shot and winning three games in a row to take a 3-1 lead, playing aggressive and crisp tennis.
Unfortunately for Ons Jabeur, she couldn’t maintain her intensity, and the unforced errors continued to pile up. Many of these errors were provoked by Vondrousova’s relentless defense. From a 3-1 advantage, Ons Jabeur faltered once again, losing five of the last six games. Vondrousova sealed the match with a brilliant lunging volley winner, clinching her first major title in the process.
Vondrousova’s Unlikely Title Run and Personal Milestones
Two weeks ago, as Vondrousova embarked on her improbable title run, her husband, Stepan, stayed home to take care of their cat, Frankie. He only flew to London to join her in the stands after she secured her spot in the final.
“Tomorrow is the first anniversary of our wedding, so this is present,” Vondrousova remarked, highlighting the significance of the day.
Since her appearance in the 2019 Roland Garros final, Vondrousova’s career has experienced ups and downs. She claimed the silver medal at the 2020 Olympics, defeating Naomi Osaka in Tokyo, but injuries, including two wrist surgeries, have hindered her progress as a consistent contender.
Her first surgery came shortly after her breakout performance in 2019, which prevented her from capitalizing on her success. Her most recent surgery took place last April, and she returned to the court at the end of 2022 after a six-month hiatus, sporting several new tattoos.
With her Wimbledon victory, Vondrousova has another reason to celebrate, as she and her coach made a bet that if she won a Grand Slam, he would get a tattoo as well.
Ons Jabeur’s Heartbreak
While Vondrousova celebrated her well-deserved triumph, Ons Jabeur experienced the pain of defeat. Reaching her third Grand Slam final presented her with a golden opportunity against a less experienced opponent.
However, when the crucial moment arrived, Ons Jabeur lacked the nerve to finish it off. As she accepted the runner-up trophy and lifted it into the air, tears streamed down her face. “I think this is the most painful loss of my career,” she admitted, reflecting on her disappointment.