Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic became one of Wimbledon’s most unlikely champions on Saturday, beating Tunisian trailblazer Ons Jabeur in straight sets.
Vondrousova, 24, became the latest in a long line of Czech-born women to lift the sport’s most important trophy, dating back to Martina Navratilova’s Wimbledon reign in the 1980s, after Navratilova defected to the United States .
Like Navratilova, Vondrousova is a left-handed player with a poor slice serve, which she used throughout the afternoon in the tightest moments when Jabeur tried to control the match or make another return.
For Jabeur, the loss in a second straight Wimbledon final against an opponent who accomplished far less than other women she beat on the way to the precipice of tennis history, was nothing short of heartbreaking. Jabeur has now lost three of the last five Grand Slam finals, a long way from becoming the first woman of Arab descent and from Africa to win the major championships in tennis. Like most tennis players, she has long dreamed of winning Wimbledon and last year used a picture of the women’s trophy as the key on her phone.
Jabeur started quickly, breaking the serve of a nervous Vondrousova several times in the first set. She was in tight form at the start but holding a 4-2 lead in the first set she became untangled, sending forehands into the net, floating backhands past the baseline.
Before she knew it, she was down a set and lost her serve to start the second. For her part, Vondrousova did everything she needed to do, keeping the ball in play, whipping out her curling, spinning shots that were so different from the power Jabeur faced in her recent matches.
While Jabeur steadied himself, and even increased to another lead in the second set at 3-1, but then it all went away once again, as Jabeur struggled to find the court and sent too many balls into the middle of the net. She lost five of the last six games, and another woman from the Czech Republic was the Wimbledon champion.