Markéta Vondroušová has defied the odds throughout the last fortnight at Wimbledon, and the Czech did so again in Saturday’s women’s final, becoming the first unseeded woman in the famous Open Era to win the Open Era.
Playing in his second Grand Slam final, world no. 42, 6-4, 6-4, she created history by beating the No. 6 seed on Center Court, and the enormity of her feat hit her.
The lowest-ranked female player in the world has not reached a Wimbledon final since Serena Williams in 2018, when she was ranked 181st in the world. The last person to do so was Billie Jean King in 1963.
At the start of the tournament, no one expected Vondrousova to compete in the championship, not even the Czech Republic player whose husband stayed until the end to take care of their cat, Frankie.
But Zabeer became the fifth-seeded under-24 player in the tournament as her unpredictability proved difficult for her opponents to overcome, especially as the Tunisian struggled despite several chances to take control of the match.
“Tennis is crazy,” Vondrousova said in her on-court interview. “Yeah, I don’t know what’s going on right now, it’s an amazing feeling.”
History would have been made regardless of which of the finalists lifted the Venus Rosewater dish, but the enormity of the occasion weighed heavily on Jabir, who has now lost his second consecutive Wimbledon final, he said after the loss. The pain of her life. It was his third loss in a major final.
But that’s what puts pressure on a player, especially while carrying the hopes of not just a nation, but a continent, while trying to grapple with her own expectations, dreams and past failures. Zabeer again became the first Arab and African woman to win a Grand Slam, but her 31 unforced errors proved costly and the wait continues.
“I’m not going to give up, I’m going to come back stronger,” she said at center court, wiping away tears.
Unpredictable and fearless
Zapier had plenty of chances, especially in the first set, but only won two of seven break points and committed 17 unforced errors. Vondroušová figures to be upset as she takes control.
The finalists traded breaks in the second and third games of the tournament, leveling the tie at 2-2 after a series of absorbing, long baseline battles. Consecutive high layoffs – four in the opening seven games – nerves seeped into their game and added to the tension.
Vondrousova, the unpredictable left-hander, changed her tactics brilliantly. She kept changing the speed and spin of the ball and eventually took the first set, getting a crucial break in the ninth game to clinch the set.
Zabiur, 28, shook his head as he was broken in the opening game of the second set as his opponent made it six games in a row.
The change of pace has been surprising, but Vondrousova has dominated her opponents throughout these past two weeks. Unable to predict what shot will come next, seeds of doubt begin to play in the mind.
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But things can change quickly in tennis, and just when Zabir seemed to be hanging on, Vondrousova came back from 40-0 down on serve to level the match. Confidence was restored, and a nation breathed a little easier. But only for a short time.
To continue the unpredictability of the match, Jabir has yet to land a killer blow on a player who refuses to submit.
The crowd was rooting for Japier, who said it was her dream to win at the All England Club, but their voices weren’t enough as Vondrousova broke again at 4-4 and served out for the match, falling to the grass. His backhand volley was a famous hit.