Jabeur, who will have the Arab world rooting for her on Saturday, has certainly earned her place in the final.
Vondrousova one step from ‘mission impossible’
For Marketa Vondrousova the very notion of winning Wimbledon was an impossibility a year ago, but on Saturday she has the chance to add her name to an esteemed list of Czech champions.
Back then she was a Wimbledon ‘tourist’ supporting her friend and doubles partner Miriam Kolodziejova in qualifying and seeing London’s sights, after her own participation was ruled out because of a second surgery on her wrist.
In actual fact, what was mainly occupying her thoughts was her looming wedding to partner Stepan Simek for which, thankfully, her plaster cast came off in time for the big day.
Now, after beating Elina Svitolina 6-3 6-3 on Thursday, she is preparing for another significant milestone moment in her life — a women’s singles final against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur on Centre Court where she can follow the likes of Martina Navratilova, Jana Novotna and Petra Kvitova.
Not only that, but Prague-based Vondrousova, 24, can become the first unseeded woman to win Wimbledon.
“I had a cast on. It was after the surgery. I didn’t play for almost six months, so it was very tough,” Vondrousova told reporters when asked to cast her mind back 12 months.
“I’m just so grateful to be here. It’s crazy that this is happening. I mean, for me, when it was clay or hard, maybe I would say, yeah maybe it’s possible.
“But grass was impossible for me. It’s even crazier that this is happening.”
Of course, the Olympic silver-medallist is no stranger to surprise runs at Grand Slams, having reached the French Open final as a teenager in 2019, also when unseeded.
Then she lost to Australia’s Ash Barty, admitting the it had all been ‘too much for her’ but this time with a few more years of experience she hopes to go one better than her friend Karolina Muchova who was runner-up in this year’s French Open.
“I was crying so much after the final when she lost. It was really sad,” Vondrousova, who made a tentative return to the second-tier ITF Tour last October, said.
Vondrousova said she arrived at Wimbledon this year with good feelings on the grass after a couple of wins in Berlin in the build-up, but with a tough draw she had modest expectations.
But something clicked and she has beaten 12th seed Veronika Kudermetova, 20th seed Donna Vekic, 32nd seed Marie Bouzkova and fourth seed Jessica Pegula.
None of those wins were witnessed firsthand by her husband who was back home looking after their cat Frankie.
“He’s coming tomorrow with my sister. We texted the cat sitter to come to our home. He’s coming tomorrow,” she said.