Viking Classic Birmingham 2021: Jabeur makes history with first win
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Ons Jabeur earned a place in the history books with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Daria Kasatkina in the Viking Classic Birmingham final by becoming the first Tunisian and the first Arab woman ever to win a WTA Tour title.
World number 24 Jabeur broke Kasatkina's serve three times to prevail in the first set, before successive breaks at the start of the second put the 26-year-old in control at 4-0.
Two-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Kasatkina recovered to 4-3, but Jabeur held on to win a singles final at the third attempt.
It also marked a debut WTA Tour title for Jabeur, who had lost her two previous WTA Tour singles finals, including a heart-breaking defeat to Kasatkina in Moscow in 2018.
“I’m so proud. I’m struggled a lot and it was tough for me to win a WTA title,” Jabeur told the crowd on the Ann Jones Centre Court.
“I had to go for it. I had to win this title just to breath out a little bit and also to be the example. There are not a lot of Arabic or Tunisian players playing and I hope this inspires them to go on and do more. I want to see more of them playing alongside me.”
Jabeur, who beat British No.2 Heather Watson in Saturday’s semi-finals, said the disappointment of her previous finals had spurred her on against Kasatkina.
“The last time I played Dasha I lost and I was crying,” she said. “This morning I was thinking am I going to be crying and disappointed tonight or am I going to celebrate?”
By lifting the famous Maud Watson Trophy, the Tunisian adds her name to an impressive line-up of previous champions in Birmingham, including Billie Jean King, Maria Sharapova, Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver.
Birmingham’s own tennis legend Ann Jones, who was instrumental in bringing the tournament to her home city, came in person to watch the final on the court named in her honour.
Jabeur narrowly missed out on making it a clean sweep of titles at the Edgbaston Priory Club when she and her partner Ellen Perez were edged out 6-4, 2-6, 10-8 in the doubles final by Czech pair Lucie Hrdecka and Maria Bouzkova.
In the wheelchair event, Japan’s Yui Kamiji beat Aniek Van Koot 6-1, 1-6, 7-6(7) then teamed up with Birmingham’s Jordanne Whiley to beat Van Koot and Kgothatso Montjane 6-3, 6-3 in the doubles.