Wimbledon 2022: Ons Jabeur column on loving the big stage & entertaining fans

Ons Jabeur
Wimbledon 2022 on the BBC
Venue: All England Club Dates: 27 June-10 July
Coverage: Live across BBC TV, radio and online with extensive coverage on BBC iPlayer, Red Button, Connected TVs and mobile app.

With all of the players wearing white and the fans so smartly dressed, Wimbledon reminds me of a wedding.

I love the history and the traditions, like the all-white kit and everybody eating strawberries, it is just an amazing occasion.

I love playing on Centre Court, where I had my third-round match against Diane Parry, and playing on Court One, where I beat Elise Mertens in the fourth round, is also always very special.

I love the big stage. I'm a little bit of a show-off. I love to connect with the crowd.

Having a great connection between me and the fans is very important to me. That is one of the main reasons why I play tennis.

During my match against Elise they enjoyed it when I headed the ball and did a few kick-ups, I was having fun. It was a very stressful match and it was a small escape for me.

I was trying to loosen up mentally - and entertain the crowd a little bit. It is nice to do some things like that and show my skills.

Even if it is a small court but there is a lot of people watching, I love that as well.

Ons Jabeur
Jabeur celebrated winning her fourth-round match against Elise Mertens by "thanking" the Wimbledon grass

I think I have made a good impression with the Wimbledon crowd, especially after last year when I also reached the quarter-finals, and they kept following me.

I love the crowd here, I love how passionate they are about sport and how passionate they are about tennis.

The spectators are really respectful and they clap every great point, no matter who is playing. The energy is incredible.

No matter what ranking you are, they always follow you, support you and they love you.

For me that love from the crowd and the connection with them helps me be the player I am. I feel I get the energy to play better.

I love to entertain them so hopefully I'll keep playing better, doing my favourite shots and winning even more matches.

'It wasn't love at first sight'

I first played on grass when I was a junior, I think the first tournament was at Halle in Germany. It was terrible. The ball didn't bounce.

I didn't know what to do but then I got used to it - slowly.

So it is fair to say it wasn't instant love with playing on the grass courts!

But now I love it.

I celebrated beating Elise by thanking the grass for giving me the chance to win. I kissed it and then touched it with my hands.

I love playing on the tennis court - any tennis court - so it is very important for me to thank the court after playing on it.

There are no grass courts in Tunisia but lots of grass football pitches, so playing tennis on grass now reminds me of playing football, which I told you in my previous column is one of my other passions.

Another reason I love the grass is it feels like a connection with nature. I have a deep connection with nature, I love going to parks and I love to meditate.

That gives me the inspiration, the energy, to compete here. Seeing everything green is really amazing for me.

Since I've been in London I've been to Hyde Park, which is a really beautiful one and near to where I am staying for the tournament.

And I know they have concerts there as well - I saw on the news The Rolling Stones played there recently - maybe I will get to go to a big gig there one day.

Driving my opponents crazy is one of my hobbies

My style on the court is representative of my personality off the court, for sure.

I play with slice and changes of rhythm. I don't like routine much. That's why I don't do the same shot very often.

I like to have fun, I like to smile. I really like to enjoy my time, on and off court. I don't want to be stuck in one match, life is beautiful and we should enjoy it.

My game is suited to playing on grass because I change the rhythm and do a lot of slices - you can go deep, you can go short, you can do a drop shot - and I love that my serve is really effective on grass.

Ons Jabeur celebrates
Ons has won two of her three WTA Tour titles on grass courts and celebrated her most recent - at Berlin last month - by jumping into a lake with her team

The fact that I can win free points from there is really amazing.

But overall, I just love to make the player think and so they don't know if it's going to be a dropshot, or slice or a flat ball.

Changing the rhythm and driving my opponents crazy is one of my hobbies right now.

I'm hoping to keep trying to do that at Wimbledon until next Saturday.

Ons Jabeur was talking to BBC Sport's Jonathan Jurejko at Wimbledon.

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