Jabeur Tells 'Super Ignorant' Critics To Visit Saudi Arabia To Give Honest Opinion

Jabeur Tells 'Super Ignorant' Critics To Visit Saudi Arabia To Give Honest Opinion

by Nurein Ahmed

Ons Jabeur provided food for thought for those still critical of Saudi Arabia's involvement in tennis.

Jabeur is one of the few tennis players who has publicly backed women's tennis being held on Saudi Arabian soil. That historic moment will happen at the end of the regular season in November when Riyadh will host the prestigious WTA Finals.

Tennis legends like Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert have severely condemned the decision to move the WTA's flagship year-end tournament to the Gulf Kingdom. They jointly penned a letter addressed to the WTA Board earlier this year, which was published in the Washinton Post.

However, their opinion was met with a fierce retort from the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the US, Princess Reema Bandar Al Saud, who accused the pair of "turning their backs" on women.

Some WTA players have also expressed their reservations, although they remain extremely cautious about what they write or speak about in the media.

The country's de facto leader, Mohammed bin Salman, is unperturbed by accusations of "sportswashing." The country continues to spend lavishly on major sports to diversify its investments and make itself more appealing to tourists.

Jabeur told reporters following her third-round win over Leylah Fernandez at the Madrid Open that she is not concerned by people's opinions but is still "bothered" by those who have no intention of visiting the country so that they are in a position to give an "honest" opinion.

"Obviously people could have different opinions. Where it bothers me is that when some people, they don't know what's really happening there, and super ignorant about what's really happening in Saudi. So like Princess Reema said, 'You should come to Saudi, be there, and judge yourself'."

"I think if you're in another country and not coming there and see how Saudi is being played, for me, even though I'm not from Saudi, but I would extend the invitation for everyone to come and see for themself. If they really don't like it, they would share their honest opinion."

The Tunisian is one of the most revered athletes in the Arab world. She remains the highest-ranked Arab player in history and the only one to have headlined three Grand Slam finals.

Although she was candid about being "biased" in the subject, she is grateful for the opportunity to inspire a generation that had longed for an opportunity like this.

"I am always honestly biased in this position here and the decision they took. I'm very happy to be there. As an Arab woman, I'm very proud some things are moving there in Saudi."

"We are not telling them to say you really like it or anything. Obviously I wish to see better comments. For me, it always has been about chances, and going there not just to play tennis matches but to give the opportunity especially for younger women to see their role models from before and to believe that they can achieve anything."


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