Ons Jabeur on her unique approach: ‘I see it as a show’

Ons Jabeur on her unique approach: ‘I see it as a show’

Ons Jabeur believes in taking everything in stride.

At the 2022 Credit One Charleston Open, the Tunisian star fell just shy of capturing what would have then been the biggest title of her career, and she walked off court in tears, stung with disappointment.

Over the next few months, however, she’d win a WTA 1000 crown at Madrid before finishing as runner-up at both Wimbledon and the US Open.

“I just believe, ‘Don’t hate something bad happening to you because probably something good will happen after,’” she told reporters this week in Charleston. “That’s what happened after [last year] here.”

Jabeur’s success has taken her as high as world No. 2, and this week she is ranked fifth as she returns to the scene of the climb. Tuesday night she meets Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko in a second-round match.

“Everything starts from Charleston,” she added.

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Ons Jabeur: Minister of happiness

Jabeur, 28, has taken on the moniker the “Minister of Happiness”, a nickname that began in her home country and now has international notoriety.

It comes from Jabeur’s uncanny ability to bring fans along the ride on court with her – as a shot-maker, engaged entertainer and unabashed extrovert.

“The energy that they give me on court is very important and interacting with them after a match or before, it’s very helpful [for me]. As long as I put a smile on my face, as long as I really laugh with them and really enjoy being on the court, that’s when I play my best.”

“Sometimes I forget to do that, unfortunately,” she added. “I try to remember it’s just a tennis match. I’m supposed to have fun; my game is fun. I really love the crowd. I see it as a show, so… enjoy the show.”

Jabeur hasn’t been allowed to be her usually joyful self out on court much in 2023. After a semifinal run in Adelaide to start the season, she crashed out of the Australian Open in the second round before revealing she would undergo a “minor surgery” on her knee.

She said her physical health is “getting there” as she arrives to her favorite part of the season: Clay.

“It’s a matter of time and a few matches [for me],” she said. “And getting the confidence back.”

Ons on going gluten free… and ‘The Notebook’

As she looks to find her top form again, Jabeur has made a massive dietary change: She’s a month into eating only gluten-free.

“I’m going to see how [it goes]. I’m not allergic to gluten, but I think there is a lot of stuff in nutrition there are things to avoid [more],” she explained. “Everyone should know their body, and for me I’m trying to find the way to feel the best. The best thing is feel good in the future.”

She added with a laugh: “It depends on the days. I’m scared when I go back to Tunisia where there aren’t as many options as there are here.”

While going gluten free is new, Jabeur brought up a year-old topic with reporters on Monday: She wants – if she can hoist the trophy this week in Charleston – to do her champion’s photoshoot at a scene location from her favorite movie, The Notebook.

“If I win this year, I want to take the picture in” one of those locations, she said. “You guys help me… do the research!”

Plenty of smiles spread across the room.

Ons Jabeur
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