Ons Jabeur struggled to hold back the tears after losing a second consecutive Grand Slam final on Saturday, but while the Tunisian said her U.S. Open defeat to Iga Swiatek was tough to take she vowed to come back swinging.
The 28-year-old Tunisian, who lost her first Grand Slam title match at Wimbledon in July, was beaten 6-2 7-6(5) by world number one Swiatek at Flushing Meadows.
She told reporters that not even the sting of defeat on the sport’s biggest stage could keep her down for long.
“I struggled to win my first WTA title. It took me time. So I believe this will take me time,” said Jabeur, who will regain the world number two ranking after the tournament concludes.
“The most important thing is accepting it, you know, learning from the finals that I lost.”
A crowd favourite in New York for her creative play and ebullient personality, she claimed her first Tour-level title last year in Birmingham, England, nine years after first appearing in a WTA main draw.
She went on a tear this year, winning in Madrid and Berlin, before Elena Rybakina came back from a set down to end her title hopes at Wimbledon.
Jabeur’s march through the Flushing Meadows draw saw her swat aside a red-hot Caroline Garcia in the semi-finals but a rocky start against Swiatek proved too much for Tunisia’s “Minister of Happiness.”
“Wimbledon was tough. This one is going to be tough,” she told reporters.
“I’m not someone that going to give up. I am sure I’m going to be in the final again.”
The first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam final, and first African woman to reach the U.S. Open championship match, Jabeur said her message to the next generation of girls hoping to follow her path was : “Never give up.”
“That’s what I was trying to do all my career. I had some ups and downs. Before, it was injuries and getting to know myself on the court. After, it was losing quarter-finals,” she said.
“Then it evolved to losing finals. Then getting titles.”