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May 20, 2022

Ons Jabeur

Paris, France

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Welcome to Paris. You're on an incredible run of form on clay. What are your expectations now that we are at Roland Garros?

ONS JABEUR: Well, it's nice to be here. I love playing in Paris, I love playing on this kind of clay. Hopefully continuing with the great results.

My main goal is to be in the second week, for sure. I will be happy if I make it to the semifinals, because, you know, Courtney always asks me, What makes you happy?

I'm expecting to go further really and enjoy my time here, bring up the level that I want to play with and hopefully will be great results.


Q. What's it been like since you have arrived? There is a different vibe coming in this time because many eyes are on you, your ranking is higher, you've done well in the buildup, you're getting Philippe Chatrier court when you want, all that stuff.

ONS JABEUR: What I want when I want.

Q. Tell us, actually, from your perspective, what has your experience been like since you arrived here and how different has it felt?

ONS JABEUR: Well, I'm the same person, so I try to not feel different. But, yeah, I felt the attention and people like really congratulate me, which is amazing to see how players are like following.

Yes, I practiced on the Philippe Chatrier, but I came at 9:00, so it's pretty early, early bird these days.

Yeah, I'm really loving it. Just always really special for here to coming in Roland Garros. I try really not to see things differently, but really feels amazing.

Q. What did you take from what you did in Madrid and then turned around to do in Rome that will help you here in Paris, separate and aside from just your level? What secrets or what tricks have you learned to maintain the level that you are playing right now?

ONS JABEUR: I think physically I'm much better than before, and the fact that since the beginning of the season I said can I put more budget in recovery for myself. That I have been doing very well. Since Charleston we worked really hard and had the period to preparate because before I was a little bit injured.

Yeah, everything was great. Melanie was in Madrid. I have a great physio, you know, who comes few days with me that helps me a lot.

I feel like a lot of things are taking places in my team, and that really helped me. Cannot play a lot of matches from Madrid to Rome, which I was never used to it, so usually I play a tournament and second, first match will be very tough for me.

And obviously I feel the progress. I feel much better in my body, and that, I think, was really important for me. Because the level, let's say I always had like I can really play good but if physically I'm not ready, then the level cannot follow.

Q. Iga obviously has come in here, 28-win match streak. You are her most recent match. What do you think it's going to take for someone to beat her here? Do you have any idea what it will take for somebody to get the best of her at this level right now?

ONS JABEUR: She's having great momentum. She's not there by chance. You know, she work really hard to achieve that kind of level.

I think tactically you should see -- I'm not going to tell you, but I will try it for maybe, maybe the final (smiling).

I think I stand by what I said earlier, that you should believe that you can win against, like, players that have great momentum like Iga right now. But the main important thing is to focus on yourself better than to see who you are playing, because the game could change it up. If you are playing a great player you can start being stressed or overwhelmed with the image of that player.

I think everybody has to focus on their self and believe they can beat great players.

Q. Just wondering, your whole career you have sort of made step-by-step progress year over year. Now off the back of what you did in Madrid and Rome, do you feel like now is your moment to sort of capitalize at a Grand Slam? Do you feel in a rush to have Grand Slam success now or are you confident that, you know, it's going to come in time like everything else?

ONS JABEUR: Yeah, I was confident that everything will come in time, that I'm here because my time -- I'm supposed to really take my time. But I always said it from the beginning of the season that three things: I want to be top 5; I want to win more titles; and I want to win a Grand Slam, you know.

I'm getting there in all those three (smiling). But I don't want to like put the bad pressure on myself that, you know, I have to do it this year, otherwise it's going to be, I don't know, never. But I always believe that I can win a Grand Slam, and I feel like this season could be the right one hopefully.

I'm putting it out there, you know, just in case.

Q. There were a couple of matches in Rome last week on route to the final where you came back from seemingly impossible positions to win. I'm just wondering what that does for you mentally, what it might do the next time you find yourself in a seemingly impossible position. Does it change something in your mind?

ONS JABEUR: Yeah, that kind of matches against Maria or Dash gives me a lot of confidence that I should believe more in my mental skills. You know, I always knew that I could come back and never give up.

But it's funny, I always see the player does it and I'm like, how do they do it. And always impressed with like, Petra Kvitova always does it sometimes she comes back, or Anett when I was hoping for her to lose last year, she didn't (smiling).

It's amazing to see that happening for myself, and I feel like, okay, you have this in you, and you can do it. So I feel like now it gives me more confidence to never give up and each point is very, very important.

Q. Having Melanie with you in Madrid and having that be such a positive thing for you, have you thought about having someone, her or another sort of psychologist on that side travel with you more, more full time? Iga is doing it. Could it become more of a regular part of your travel routine potentially?

ONS JABEUR: I mean, I decided that even before Madrid, it was great. I always believed in mental, in sports is very important. I feel if you are ready mentally you can do anything.

I have been with Melanie for a long time and I had other people before her, I think since the age of maybe 13 or 12. I tried to always work on that.

But, yeah, I mean, for sure, she's probably coming to Wimbledon, maybe she's coming here, I'm not sure yet, but she will be here. Maybe another tournament in Europe. We try to manage tournaments in Europe and Wimbledon, since it's very important tournament for me.

Q. You are very close to your team, obviously. I know your family was in Madrid, as well. I'm curious, what's it been like seeing them experience your success? What have you seen and the reaction? What are some of the things they told you, because I could tell it means a lot... I'm curious what that part felt like for you.

ONS JABEUR: I was superstitious in the beginning to tell them to come. It's just a finals, one match, and we were doing the same thing from the beginning. But they have been with me since day one, since I started playing tennis. They have been with me when I was playing 25s.

So, you know, after the final, when I finish everything, they were all gathering, doing burrito party there. We were like talking and bringing back all the great memories, like I didn't have money to travel and how they were like sending me money from there, and I tried to return, you know.

And how I struggled winning few finals and how their support was really nice. It was very nice to have that chat with them, especially that my brother, who lives in Stuttgart, I don't see him very often, and my sister and other brother, they are here in Paris. It was very nice to be here together, which doesn't happen that often.

Q. You have built your career kind of on your own terms. You know, just the way you play your tennis. But then also how you formulated your team and gone about your career. Curious if you can reflect as to what you're most proud of with respect to doing it your own way, and then on the other side, what have you maybe brought on to your team or brought on to your game or your approach to the sport that maybe wasn't, quote-unquote, "your way" but convinced yourself to do?

ONS JABEUR: Well, first thing that comes to my mind is that I have had a lot of not just coaches but people saying that what I'm doing is not right and I should stop doing dropshots. Just an example, you know.

That kind of affected my confidence, my self-esteem a little bit, because, okay, then I shouldn't do that. And I wasn't winning. Obviously I was kind of believing them, and I wasn't listening to myself, and I was judging myself a lot. I was being so hard with myself, because I wasn't getting the result that I wanted.

And then I start to listen to myself more, I start to believe in myself, in the shots that I was making, in the game style I was making.

Then everything change, you know. It took me time, you know. Not just in one day, but I think it was like two, three years. As soon as we realize this, everything start to be better.

The fact that I did that, I think that's the most thing that I'm proud of. It's really amazing the switch on, because some players or some people they don't have that momentum to switch off and to find the right way to find what you need to do.

I started to putting myself before them, before coaches who didn't listen to me, and I was like, Listen. It's my career. I'm controlling this. I mean, I'll listen to the coach, of course. But I had to have this, and everything start to be great with Bertrand before, my French coach. Nowadays, everything was really great, I felt like I needed that coach who can listen to me and not just coach me as the same he coaches another player.

That was very tough for me to find. I think that thing was really important for me to get my career started.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.

Q. A very specific question. I don't know if you saw that in the lockers of the players, there is a charity box so that players can give a tennis racquet, shoes for charities. What do you think about that? Do you think it's a pity it didn't exist before? Is it a good thing? Are you going to give anything?

ONS JABEUR: It's a pity it didn't exist before, because this charity box was there in all the other tournaments, like in the U.S. It's a great idea to do this, because honestly, we have many shoes that we end up throwing away, and we would love to give them to the people who need them. So it's a great thing.

Q. I was able to watch the documentary on the Explorer team. Is it a good documentary? We can measure your popularity in your country? Maybe we can't see this in other countries, but how do you live this popularity in Tunisia? You are a real icon. People stand up to watch your matches. How do you live this as a woman in your country?

ONS JABEUR: It's incredible. I didn't expect such reaction from Tunisians. Maybe people watch tennis now as they watch soccer. It's like a national day when Ons wins. It's like when Tunisia wins a soccer match.

And now more children have come to play tennis. It's extraordinary. I got a great reaction when I won Roland Garros as a junior, which I didn't expect.

I see that nowadays more and more people watch me, they say, Well done, Ons. Continue. Go on. We support you.

It's a great pride for me. I can feel it. As I said, I don't play only for myself. I play for Tunisia. This is a great point, a great strength for me.

Q. With what mindset do you approach Roland Garros when you have your better ranking and you're seen as a favorite? How do you feel to be in that position where you could win this tournament which you have been dreaming about always?

ONS JABEUR: Well, I feel rather confident. I played quite a lot of matches on clay. I feel good. I have always loved Roland Garros, the French tournament.

I started by winning the junior tournament here, and it's a very good memory. I wanted to win as a professional player. I work on a match-per-match basis. I like pressure. I like being one of the favorites in this tournament, is a good thing, but I like to control my mind.

I will be a bit harder on myself, because it wouldn't be acceptable for me to get to the second week, but it's a pressure I put on myself. I'm working with the whole team to get to the result I would like to get.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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