INTERVIEW: Jabeur becomes the first Arab woman to reach the second week of Wimbledon.

Advertising

After a Roland Garros that saw four first-time Grand Slam semifinalists in the women’s final four, and a women’s champion ranked outside the Top 10 for just the fifth time ever, Wimbledon presented an opportunity for order to be restored.

Hold my Pimm’s, said the All England Club.

Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova, both multiple-time Wimbledon champions, exited in the first round. Bianca Andreescu and Belina Bencic, the No. 5 and No. 9 seeds, waited three days to play their opening matches; after all that, neither player won so much as a set. The No. 3 and No. 4 seeds, Elina Svitolina and Sofia Kenin, didn’t make it past the second round.

Considering the carnage, 11th-seeded Garbine Muguruza looked to be one of the clear favorites left in the draw on Friday morning. She raised the Venus Rosewater Dish just four years ago, and the Spaniard had raised her game this week, dropping just six games over her two victories.

But once again, a high seed seemed to be curse, rather than a blessing, with Muguruza losing to 21st-seeded Ons Jabeur, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.

Jabeur did it all in her entertaining third-round win.

Jabeur did it all in her entertaining third-round win.

Jabeur has played excellent tennis this year, reaching a career-high ranking and boasting a 32-11 record, with a tournament win—on grass, two weeks ago in Birmingham.

“I think she’s in a good moment,” Muguruza said of her opponent. “She’s been playing well in the last year or year and a half, I would say. I think grass helps her game. I feel like she’s very comfy.”

“You know, I think she’s on,” Muguruza went on to say. “She’s a very talented player. She needs to be with confidence and on to be able to play her game, and right now she is.”

With her stirring comeback, the Tunisian became the first Arab woman to reach the second week of Wimbledon. It was an achievement that clearly held meaning, given her post-match reaction—not to mention her pre-match point episode of sickness, with her nerves simply too much to contain.

Advertising

Still, given Muguruza’s pedigree, the result was a surprise. It also made the earlier progress of the remaining high seeds all the more impressive:

  • Second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka cruised into the fourth round with a 6-0, 6-3 win over María Camila Osorio Serrano.
  • No. 7 seed Iga Swiatek routed Irina-Camelia Begu, 6-0, 6-1. The 20-year-old Pole has lost just 13 games in her three match wins.
  • Karolina Pliskova, the No. 8 seed, won her third consecutive straight-set match, over compatriot Tereza Martincova, 6-3, 6-3.

Only four of the top 12 women’s seeds remain in the singles draw, with top-seeded Ashleigh Barty hoping reach Monday’s round of 16 tomorrow; she’ll face Katerina Siniakova.

But we’re already assured another surprise set of Grand Slam semifinalists. Swiatek had never won a main-draw match at Wimbledon before this year, Sabalenka had never reached the third round, and Barty and Pliskova could be first-time quarterfinalists.