In an emotional scene caught on video, Tunisian tennis player Ons Jabeur burst into tears as she spoke about the children of Gaza, announcing that she would donate part of her prize money to the Palestinians who have been suffering from the Israeli occupation’s continued aggression for weeks. Thousands of innocent people have been killed in Israel’s ongoing bombardment of Gaza, most of them women and children.
Jabeur is ranked number seven in the world. After her victory over Marketa Vondrousova in the group stage of the 2023 WTA finals, she said that she would donate part of her prize money to Palestine.
“I am very happy with the win, but I haven’t been happy lately, to be honest with you. The situation in the world doesn’t make me happy.” She then broke down in tears and could not continue over the applause of the crowd. “It’s very tough seeing children, babies dying every day. It’s heart-breaking. So, I’ve decided to donate part of my prize money to help the Palestinians. I cannot be happy with just this win, with what is happening. I’m sorry guys, [I know] it’s supposed to be about tennis, but it’s very frustrating looking at videos every day.” She added that this wasn’t a political message. “It’s just humanity. I want peace in this world and that’s it.”
The video of the tennis star’s speech is circulating on social media. Admiration has been expressed for her courageous humanitarian position in supporting the Palestinians.
The Tunisian player had announced her solidarity with the Palestinians in an earlier Instagram post, in which she called for an end to violence against the Palestinians. “What Palestinians have been going through for the past 75 years is indescribable. What innocent civilians are going through is indescribable; no matter what their religion is, or what their origin is. We all want to achieve peace. Peace is all we need and deserve. Stop the violence. Free Palestine.”
Jabeur’s post, predictably, sparked the anger of Israel, which demanded that the International Tennis Federation and the Women’s Tennis Association should punish the Tunisian champion due to her support for the Palestinian people. The apartheid state accused her of supporting a “murderous terrorist organisation.”
The Tunisian Ministry of Youth and Sports, however, expressed its full support for its tennis champion. Indeed, in a media statement, it stressed full and unconditional support for all Tunisian athletes who support the Palestinian cause.
Ons Jabeur made history in June 2021 when she became the first Arab woman to win a WTA tournament, defeating Russian Daria Kasatkina in the final of the Birmingham Classic.