Svitolina ends Jabeur's Wimbledon dream in third round after emotional defeat

Svitolina celebrates victory
Svitolina celebrates victoryReuters
Fifty one weeks after a heartbroken Ons Jabeur (29) trudged off Wimbledon's Centre Court with tears streaking down her face after a second successive defeat in the final, the tormented Tunisian was left to digest another painful loss on Saturday.

Jabeur's long cherished dream to hold aloft the Venus Rosewater Dish was destroyed for at least another year following a brutal 6-1 7-6(4) defeat by Elina Svitolina (29) in the third round.

"Not easy to play against such a champion like Ons, she's had two great finals here and always very tricky to play her on the grass," Svitolina said in a courtside interview.

"I played great tennis. Really happy with the way I handled some tough moments today and with my performance."

Svitolina held a 3-1 win-loss advantage over Jabeur coming into the third round showdown but a lot has happened since she achieved the last of those wins over the Tunisian in 2019.

The two 29-year-olds, born 15 days apart, had both charmed Wimbledon 12 months ago with their heart-warming back stories.

Svitolina, hailing from Ukraine, cast aside four Grand Slam champions as she made it all the way to the semi-finals just eight months after the birth of her daughter Skai.

Jabeur, meanwhile, was on a mission to become the first African and Arab woman to win a major - and Centre Court fans wanted to wrap their arms around her in a giant collective hug when she was left sobbing after her game fell apart in the final against Marketa Vondrousova.


All year long, the popular Tunisian lives and breathes for playing on tennis's most fabled arena. Even when she competing on red clay or blue hardcourts, she has found herself fantasising that she is playing on the green, green grass of Centre Court.

But that stage is now turning into her own personal torture chamber as the gut-wrenching losses are starting to pile up and her lifelong goal to become an All England Club member remains unfulfilled.

"I'm not going to lie to you. I was remembering a bit about last year. Especially not playing so good, not serving the way I wanted in the first set did bring a bit of sad memories," said Jabeur, who still appears to be haunted by “the most painful loss” of her career.

"But yeah, I would still love the Centre Court. Will still hope to come back and win on it again."

Tenth seed Jabeur could have been 2-0 up right at the start as she had a break point in Svitolina's opening service game and a game point in the next.

Instead it was Ukrainian 21st seed Svitolina who struck the killer blows early to open up a 2-0 lead and she never moved her eye off the ball as she romped through to bag the first set after Jabeur tamely netted a service return on set point.

Jabeur, beaten by Elena Rybakina in the 2022 final, managed to put up more of a fight in the second set and even had set point at 6-5 up on Svitolina's serve.

But the nightmare memories Jabeur is starting to collect from Centre Court will have another addition as her forehand down the line fell millilitres wide and Svitolina grabbed that reprieve to get out of trouble.

A wayward forehand on match point - the 31st unforced error to fly off her racket - condemned Jabeur to her earliest defeat at the grasscourt major for five years, leaving Svitolina to lap up the applause from the crowd which included her husband Gael Monfils.

She will next face China's Wang Xinyu.


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