Despite missing out on a place on at the WTA Finals, Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur is delighted with a season which has seen her climb to a career-high ranking.
Anett Kontaveit clinched the final spot in Guadalajara by winning the Transylvanian Open on Sunday but Jabeur, 27, is set to travel to Mexico as a reserve in case any of the eight participants in the Finals suffers injury.
Her progress to the semi-finals at Indian Wells last month has helped her reach seventh place in the world rankings – and Jabeur is “honoured” by the support she has received from fellow players and ex-professionals since becoming the first Arab to break into the world’s top 10.
“I have been lucky to meet Billie-Jean (King) and Chris Evert also wrote about me,” she told BBC Sport Africa.
“It’s really an honour as you can see that you are doing something well. It also gives me good power to continue to work harder, be better on a court and be a good example for other players.
“I also feel lucky that so many players congratulated me. Andy (Murray) wrote about me. You can feel the energy that they are really happy for me and honestly I cannot describe the feeling – it is very important for me that I get appreciated.”
Jabeur won her first WTA title in Birmingham in June and reached a grand slam quarter-final for the second time in her career the following month at Wimbledon, matching her appearance in the last eight at the Australian Open in 2020.
Earlier this year, she equalled her best performances at the French Open and US Open by progressing to the fourth round and third round respectively.
“I have wished I could be in the top 10 for a long time and it is a great feeling to get a ranking that I have been waiting for,” she said.
“It has been a very long path. I’m super happy that, after hard work, it came. There is a lot of work to do and a lot of things to improve. I have been in the second week of a grand slam, getting to the quarters.
“I just want to go past that and win more titles. Of course next season [the goal] is to be number one and win a grand slam. Why not?”
Finding time to watch Cristiano Ronaldo
Away from tennis, Jabeur is a football fan who “always follows Tunisia” and hopes she can watch her compatriots at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
She is also particularly keen to see one of the world’s best players, who plies his trade in the Premier League, live in action.
“I always tell my husband we should find the time somewhere in Europe to go and watch Cristiano Ronaldo – my favourite of all time,” she said.
“I follow him so now I am a fan of Manchester United since he is playing there and I love Real Madrid a lot.
“I really want to find the time to watch a football match. It is honestly one of the things on my bucket list, but with Covid it makes it hard to travel sometimes. Hopefully I can start doing that more and more.”