World No.6 Ons Jabeur has opened up on the devastating health scare she suffered during last year’s Australian Open campaign.
A new documentary, titled This Is Me, details Jabeur’s incredible tennis journey and unearths the previously untold incident.
The Tunisian trailblazer has inspired the world by breaking new ground as the only African and Arab tennis player in history to contest a grand slam final.
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She was twice runner-up at Wimbledon and also reached the final of the US Open.
But at last year’s Australian Open, where she was the second seed, she suffered a shock loss to Marketa Vondrousova in the second round.
Jabeur after the loss at last year’s Australian Open. Credit: AAP
Heartbreaking footage emerged of Jabeur collapsing in the aftermath and she then took time off to undergo surgery for an undisclosed injury.
It was said to be a knee problem, but there was a much bigger issue at play as revealed in the documentary.
“I thought she’s gonna die,” her coach Issam Jellali said in the documentary.
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According to UAE-based website The National News, Jabeur required immediate medical assistance after turning blue following the loss to Vondrousova
She explains in the documentary that an enlarged nodule was obstructing her airway, which prevented oxygen from reaching her lungs.
She underwent surgery to reduce the size of the nodule and made a successful return six weeks later.
“For once in my life I had to put myself in front of everyone, my health in front of everyone. That’s something I don’t think I’ve done a lot in my career,” Jabeur said.
Jabeur didn’t take long to recapture her best form and made it to the final of Wimbledon.
But despite entering the match-up against, coincidentally, Vondrousova as favourite, the Tunisian was beaten in straight sets by the world No.42.
The 29-year-old was “emotionally destroyed” by the loss, revealing that how she had hoped to start a family with husband Karim if she lifted the trophy.
“People think I have this pressure because I want to do it for other people, which is not true. There was a personal thing going on there,” she said in the documentary.
“I win that (final) and I could have a baby right away. And that dream faded. I was haunted by fear. After all I’m just a human being, what can I do more?
“It was the toughest loss of my career because emotionally it destroyed me, not only winning Wimbledon, but the idea of having a baby just vanished with the trophy of Wimbledon.
“So I think that’s what killed me and Karim, we were crying like babies.”
Jabeur is set to be the sixth seed in the Australian Open, which begins next Sunday.