Ons Jabeur wrote herself deeper into the history books in Birmingham on Sunday afternoon, beating Daria Kasatkina, 7-5, 6-4, to become the first Arab woman ever to capture a WTA title.

“I knew I had to go for it, I had to win this title to at least breathe, and give an example,” Jabeur told WTATennis.com. “There’s not a lot of Tunisian or Arabic players playing, so I hope this could inspire them, and I want to see more Arabic [players] and Tunisians playing with me on tour.”

Jabeur had come close before, losing heartbreakers in her two previous WTA finals: 2-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 to Kasatkina at Moscow in 2018 and 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 to Astra Sharma in Charleston earlier this year.

Against Kasatkina in Moscow, she had a 6-2, 4-1 lead.

But when she had the lead this time, she hung onto it. After clinching a tight first set she raced out to a 4-0 lead in the second set and eventually closed the Russian out in straight sets.

“Last time we played was in Moscow, she won, and I was crying,” Jabeur added. “It was a great battle. I told her, ‘Can you please share some titles with me, at least, let me win my first WTA?”

Advertising

Jabeur had barely lost her two previous meetings with Kasatkina, serving for the match at the 2016 Olympics and leading 6-2, 4-1 at Moscow in 2018

Jabeur had barely lost her two previous meetings with Kasatkina, serving for the match at the 2016 Olympics and leading 6-2, 4-1 at Moscow in 2018

At No. 24, Jabeur had been the highest-ranked player yet to win a WTA title. That dubious honor now goes to 2020 Roland Garros semifinalist Nadia Podoroska, who’s currently ranked No. 40.

The win was also Jabeur’s 28th of the year, tying her with Ashleigh Barty for WTA match wins leader.

And her triumph on the grass of Birmingham shouldn’t be too much of a surprise—of her 11 career titles on the ITF Circuit, three came on grass (as well as seven on clay and one on hard courts).

Jabeur had already been the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal (at the 2020 Australian Open) and break the Top 50, and now she adds first to win a WTA title to her resume.

She nearly pulled off a sweep of the singles and doubles titles at the WTA 250 event, too, coming up just a few points short—she and Ellen Perez fell to Marie Bouzkova and Lucie Hradecka in the doubles final later on Sunday in a match tie-break, 6-4, 2-6, 10-8.