World No 3 Ons Jabeur claims football the reason she’s so good on grass ahead of Wimbledon

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Ons Jabeur has admitted that her love of football has helped her achieve success on the grass courts ahead of her Wimbledon campaign. The world No 3 is fresh off the back of her second grass title win in Berlin and will partner Serena Williams in Eastbourne this week before heading to the All England Club to try and outdo her quarter-final showing from last year.

Jabeur reached a career-high ranking of world No 3 on Monday following her run to the title in Berlin, and has since pulled out of the singles event in Eastbourne to ensure she doesn’t go into Wimbledon undercooked. Acting as Serena Williams’ doubles partner this week, the Tunisian has emerged as a talented grass-courter after she won Birmingham and reached the last-eight at Wimbledon 12 months ago.

And the 27-year-old attributes her success on the surface to football. “I love grass. I have a love relationship with the grass,” she said ahead of her doubles campaign with the 23-time Major champion in Eastbourne. “Everything started with football because I’m a huge football fan.”

Explaining how the game helped her with her tennis, Jabeur continued: “I feel when I step on the court it’s like playing football for me. Usually when I do that, I’m never tired, I’m always enjoying myself so that’s why maybe I’m having a great time there.”

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And the new world No 3 also thought the grass was good for the variety in her game. “Also my game suits very well the grass,” she said. “You can really disturb a lot of players, the slices, the drop shot, you can never know if I’m hitting or changing the rhythm so I think that’s a big advantage for me.

“And the fact that I can adapt my game also on grass could help me really get more wins. Also winning a lot of matches on it, I think, gives me more and more confidence.” Jabeur is also hoping for a good run at Wimbledon following her shock first-round exit at the French Open, where she was one of the favourites for the title.

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“Everything happens for a reason, you know? French Open wasn’t the best for me and now I get rewarded with Berlin because I stayed patient and moved on with the disappointment of Roland Garros,” she said. “But I’ve seen myself here, I wanted to be No 1 in the world and hopefully it’s getting there. Just someone has to stop Iga, really,” Jabeur laughed.

“Just a lot of sacrifices and a lot of hard work and it’s finally paying off. I feel this season, especially when I start saying I want to win more titles, I want to be top five, I want to be a Grand Slam champion, I feel like everything is getting in order. I feel I’m someone if I say something out loud it happens, you know? For some reason it puts a good pressure on me, I don’t know what’s happening but it’s working so I’ll keep doing that, for sure.”

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