My apologies, dear reader. I am not complaining, if anything I feel delighted that events have overtaken me. My promise to tell you about my Cookery book must be shelved for a short while. When I made it I had no clue as to the opportunity that a splendid young Tunisian woman was going to put in my path. I am, of course, talking about the uniquely talented Ons.
I have been watching Wimbledon on T.V. ever since I got married, over a half a century ago. It was just a hobby of mine, and although I hoped to go there one day I had never thought it would be to watch a Tunisian woman playing in a semi-final match. Had I even mentioned this to my friends, they would have laughed at me, but of course they were not the only ones.
And then it happened only last week. I screamed to the TV: “Ons, get it”, “Oh, you wonder! I love you”, “Ah, no worry, there’s another chance ” And then when she won the quarter finals, there was no stopping me. I had to go to Wimbledon. There were no tickets, but I was prepared to queue, even for the Ground, if I could not get into the Centre Court.
It took a long trip first by train, then two lines of underground and a final thirty minute walk to reach the queue and a lucky last ticket for the Centre Court, in row W. Never mind I was there and was ready to enjoy the experience. The court started filling up. I found myself sitting next to one of Tatjana Maria’s supporters.
I explained that I may well become tribal for which I, for once in my life, am not going to apologise. After all, I waited a whole 55 years for this to happen to me: a woman Tunisian in the semi-finals. My neighbour just said Wow! That’s patience and belief.
Every ball that Ons won found me dancing with joy and screaming with pleasure. My heart was bursting with pride. How tribal one can be! I didn’t care. I had to express all the frustrations of watching so much Wimbledon tennis without seeing an African or Arab face let alone a victory for our Minister of Happiness. It was a shame I couldn’t tell her so to her face, but I danced all the way to the tube station. Someone said: “Your player must have won”. I answered:”And just how,! She’s a champion”
That night I was too excited looking forward to watching the finals and seeing her win to bother with sleep. Sure enough, when the time came she won the first set and all hopes were raised, but her heavy serving opponent snatched victory in the end.
My pride for Ons was no less and when I saw her struggling to block tears of disappointment I felt like telling her that she had achieved more than has ever been done by any Tunisian woman before and very few others in the world. Head up and come back next year. The following morning even before breakfast I wrote a poem, in homage to our champion:
- Tunisia’s Tennis Star Ons Jabeur Reaches Wimbledon Final
- Ons Jabeur Becomes the Highest Ranked African & Arab Tennis Player Ever
Ons, the pride giver
At Wimbledon, us Tunisians Had no place, were only aliens Then came Ons, a champion with great soul She planted dreams and made us whole. From Carthage to Kairouan Led by our white swan We sat to the TV glue Cheering for our dreams to come true. Oh! A ball out of court That drove our joy away Just an inch spoiled our day But will not let this cruel shout Take our love for Ons out. We know you forget your fast spring. We felt the grief in you gnawing. After all you did your best Just take a good rest. And in court spend next day For you no sighing, no dismay. Remember Ons, dear There's always next year! For now you showed us the way And to Wimbledon we shall dozens of us go Now no stopping us us, Tunisians There we shall forever play. Thank you, my friend, for the precious lesson. You will be always, our shining star, our Ons.
If you would like to comment on this article or anything else you have seen on Carthage Magazine, leave a comment below or head over to our Facebook page.
And if you liked this article, sign up for the monthly features newsletter. A handpicked selection of stories from Carthage Magazine, delivered to your inbox.