As the dust settles after the contentious events at the WTA 1000 event in the Spanish capital, Ons Jabeur has stepped forward as a leading voice for change within the sport, trying to fight for better treatment for her colleagues.
During her press conference ahead of the 2023 Italian Open in Rome, the Tunisian was asked about the incident that happened in Madrid when the WTA doubles finalists weren't allowed to speak during the trophy ceremony. Although she called it unacceptable on Twitter, Jabeur admitted that she doesn't have all the information:
"I honestly don't know what happened. Definitely unacceptable not to give the opportunity for players to speak. I hope it's just a misunderstanding. I still don't have the full picture to see what happened exactly. I spoke to some players. We'll see what happened. For sure I hope this thing will never happen again."
Reflecting on her own experiences as both an up-and-coming talent and a top player, she emphasized the responsibility that elite athletes have in supporting their colleagues and promoting fairness.
"Well, I've been in both positions. I can tell you being a top player is more powerful. I believe it's also our job as a top player to stand up for our colleagues and to, like, raise the issues."
While Jabeur did not delve into specifics, she made it clear that there were areas in which she and her peers felt they deserved better. Instead of engaging in open conflict with tournament organizers, she proposed a more constructive approach, suggesting that players should foster open dialogue with one another to understand the issues at hand before taking a stand.
"I'm not trying to fight with anyone. I'm not trying to, but I feel like we need to be treated better, we need to be treated in the right way. That was not the case back in Madrid or back in other tournaments."
One of Jabeur's key points was the importance of education in empowering players to address the challenges they face. She encouraged her colleagues to learn more about the factors affecting their sport and to use this knowledge as a foundation for change.
"For me, I think some players, they don't know the facts entirely in many other issues. We need to speak between each other and raise the issue before going out and saying any other thing."
"I feel like we need to be more educated about certain stuff to be able to speak about it. I feel like everybody should speak about it. Iga is someone that's also vocal about a lot of things. I appreciate she's also having the time to speak to all of the other players."