WATCH: Jabeur completes her semifinal win over “barbecue buddy” Tatjana Maria

Most memorable moment: Coolly accompanying Serena Williams back into competition as her chosen doubles partner at Eastbourne.

Missed opportunity: The Wimbledon final, after taking a one-set (6-2) lead over lower-ranked Elena Rybakina.

2023 Projection: With a game for all surfaces, she will keep going deep in Slams and improve enough to finish the job at Wimbledon.


Smiles and shotmaking defined Ons Jabeur's memorable 2022 season.

Smiles and shotmaking defined Ons Jabeur's memorable 2022 season.

Tennis had plenty to talk about between March and September—the retirement of two GOATS and a sitting No. 1, the longest women’s winning streak of the century, a new men’s Grand Slam title record, Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarussian players, and the coronation of a teenage king. On paper, Ons Jabeur’s climb to world No. 2 might not have registered.

But on and off the court, boy, did it ever. Jabeur charged and charmed her way into the crowded spotlight through the sport’s sweeps months, a testament to her star power and historic achievements.

Jabeur didn’t steal the show, but she was always an essential part of it. When Serena returned to the court, it was alongside Jabeur. When the Tunisian became the first African and Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam final—at Wimbledon—it felt like her tournament even after she lost. And once the US Open emerged from the thrall of Serena’s goodbye, Jabeur helped carry it home by proving herself a worthy adversary to Iga Swiatek in a final that pitted No. 1 against No. 2.

And let’s not forget this perfect Halloween prank:


Jabeur made us laugh, gasp, hope and cry. She got off to a slow start, retiring in her first tournament, missing the Australian Open with the same injury, and scratching out only a few wins afterward. But she was thoroughly reborn on clay. She finished runner-up in Charleston, then won Madrid for her first WTA 1000 title (after losing the second set of the final 6-0). She kept rolling in Rome, saving match point in the semifinal versus Daria Kasatkina and losing only to the unstoppable Swiatek—but avoiding the world No. 1’s signature bagels and breadsticks.

Jabeur entered the French Open with a No. 6 seed and a tour-leading 17 wins on clay. With flamboyant game nearing full flight and taking fans on a joyride of variety, Jabeur was given a puncher’s chance by experts to upset Swiatek, The Pole might have inherited Barty’s crown, but Jabeur was her stylistic successor—a heavy forehand, weaponized slice, drop shots galore, and the best hands on tour.

But the French Open was a flop. Jabeur went out in the first round to No. 52 Magda Linette, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5. In the final set, serving at 5-6, 40-love, Jabeur hit an overhead directly back to Linette and didn’t win another point. She explained afterward that this was the first time playing a Slam with expectations, and they got to her.

“Obviously I was expecting better,” she said in the post-match press conference, “but maybe it’s a good thing for me to reflect good on this match. We say maybe something happens bad because there is something good happening in the future. Hopefully in the grass season, hopefully Wimbledon.”

How about sooner? Jabeur bounced back from the loss right away, winning a grass title in Berlin. When Belinda Bencic retired in the final with a hurt ankle, Jabeur comforted her with sincere warmth, then hit all the right notes in the trophy ceremony:


In Eastbourne, Serena returned to competition for the first time since the previous summer. She entered the doubles draw only, and shocked Jabeur by asking her to partner up. While all eyes were on the queen’s form, Jabeur played her part as team captain perfectly, especially on this point:


At Wimbledon, Jabeur was ranked No. 2 in the world for the first time, becoming the highest-ranked African woman ever by inching past former world No. 3 Amanda Coetzer of South Africa. And this time, Jabeur rose to the occasion. It was a fast correction from the way she performed under pressure at Roland Garros.

“I wasn’t used to that,” she said in a pre-Wimbledon press conference. “Just invisible player going to Grand Slams, doing well sometimes.”

For all the noise Jabeur made at the All-England Club, she was most entertaining in silence—when she sliced and strummed the ball around the court so finely that it didn’t make a sound. Her semifinal against “barbecue buddy” Tatjana Maria of Germany, another old soul on grass, featured low-fi ornamental rallies that made you check the mute button. Six, seven, eight shots in a row flicked, feathered, fluttered. (Watch the match point in the video above.)

Jabeur got off to a quick start in the final versus against Rybakina, but after she played a loose game to drop serve at the start the second set, the Kazakh unfurled her power and precision. She won the match more than Jabeur lost it.

Jabeur left London a role model with a newly revealed nickname, the Minister of Happiness, and achievements in representation that will resonate for generations.


Swiatek might have inherited Barty’s crown, but Jabeur was her stylistic successor—a heavy forehand, weaponized slice, drop shots galore, and the best hands on tour.

On North American hard courts, Jabeur lost early and withdrew with injuries. Her form didn’t inspire predictions of another Slam final. But similar to the way she responded to her French Open loss, she bounced back better. In the US Open semifinal, she took advantage of Caroline Garcia’s off day and cruised into her second Slam final. Swiatek proved too good (as she does), but Jabeur turned around a runaway match and made it an entertaining fight before falling in a second-set tiebreak.

In the fall, Jabeur helped bring tennis to North Africa at the inaugural Jasmin Open Monastir in Tunisia, where she made the quarterfinals. The WTA reported that the tournament was possible because Jabeur’s success had increased tennis’ popularity in Tunisia, and that her way with a crowd had impressed IMG’s director of tennis events. There was no tennis stadium in Tunisia until this summer.

Jabeur’s year ended in the group stage of the WTA Finals, but she won the last match of her 47-17 season. Missing the semifinals was a disappointing result, but do you think Jabeur spent any time sulking? The Minister of Happiness consistently improved, surprised, and inspired—not only herself, but the world.