On Saturday, a first-time women’s Wimbledon champion will be crowned, as Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic takes on No. 6 Ons Jabeur of Tunisia.
If Vondrousova wins, she will become the first unseeded woman to ever do so, and if Jabeur takes home the title, she will become the first African woman in the Open era to earn a Grand Slam singles trophy. Who will win? We asked our experts:
What can Jabeur do to defeat Vondrousova?
Cliff Drysdale: Jabeur needs to get the ball in play on Vondrousova’s serve. She will win most baseline rallies.
Pam Shriver: Jabeur needs to be patient and wait for the right time to attack and the right time to play finesse shots. Vondrousova, a tricky lefty, has a balanced attack with enough slices and drop shots to make anyone feel uneasy. Jabeur will need to adjust her court position often to make sure she strikes the ball at the height most preferred. Jabeur can use her outside serve on deuce court with plus one often to open court to lefty Vondrousova.
Alexandra Stevenson: Jabeur needs to bring her serving skills and her fight to the match. She says she has had her “revenge” this year — with her defeat over Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka. Jabeur will be carrying that momentum into the finals to win. Her slice serve and the deuce slice is a must against the lefty Vondrousova. It will set up her second shot for control of the court.
Bill Connelly: To me, it’s all about Jabeur’s serve. Heading into Wimbledon, she had won 68% of her first-serve points and 46% of her second-serve points. In her two losses to Vondrousova, however, she was at 60% and 32%, respectively. She was broken eight times in a three-set loss at the Australian Open and five more times in the straight-sets loss at Indian Wells in March.
But at Wimbledon, she has served as well as ever. She’s been broken only six times in this four-match gauntlet (Bianca Andreescu, Petra Kvitova, Rybakina, Sabalenka), and she has won 80% of first-serve points and 52% of second-serve points in every match. She’s controlling points beautifully and putting massive pressure on opponents. Vondrousova might be the best returner in the game not named Iga Swiatek, but if Jabeur keeps serving like this, she’s the favorite.
Tom Hamilton: She has the experience of Grand Slam finals, but it’s a case of learning from brutal past experience and making sure she doesn’t make the same errors this time around. She’s got to keep that remarkable record of winning 80% of her first-serve points at Wimbledon this year, but although she’s gone down a set three times at the championships, she can’t afford to do that against Vondrousova. This is going to be a battle of the mind for Jabeur — master that, and she’ll have her first Slam.
D’Arcy Maine: First and foremost, Jabeur will need to continue to do everything she has done throughout the tournament and do her best to not think about what’s on the line. It would be impossible to completely forget she’s playing in a major final, especially after losing in her first two attempts, but keeping her focus and mental fortitude will be key. She’s been putting in a lot of time with her sports psychologist this season, and during this fortnight, and that showed in her comeback victory over Sabalenka on Thursday. She will need to have that same level of self-belief and resolve, no matter the score, to get that much-desired Venus Rosewater dish.
Alyssa Roenigk: Exactly what she did against Rybakina and Sabalenka the past two days: Remain calm and stay in the point. Control what she can control. Before this tournament, Jabeur said that in last year’s Wimbledon final (which she lost to Rybakina in three sets), she let her emotions take over and abandoned her game plan. After Thursday’s semifinal, she said she was proud of herself for the mental work she has put in over the past year and her ability to put that work into practice during a match. She’ll be a lot prouder of herself if she can keep it up for one more match.
What can Vondrousova do to defeat Jabeur?
Drysdale: Vondrousova just needs to play the power game like she did on Thursday.
Stevenson: Vondrousova’s forehand cross to Jabeur will be strong. The backhand could upset Jabeur — if Vondrousova can push her back — then she can use the second ball to put Jabeur on the run, with her forehand down the line.
Both women have the ability to hit through the court — and then change up the pace. It will be interesting to see who can accomplish it better.
Connelly: Jabeur has been ridiculously strong mentally, but in addition to crushing Jabeur’s serve like she has in their previous two 2023 meetings, it’s fair to think that a fast start and early lead for Vondrousova could play massively in her favor, not only because, of course, early leads are always good but also because the demons of Jabeur’s Wimbledon and US Open final losses last year might begin to loom overhead. After last year’s heartbreakers, the pressure’s on Jabeur. The more Vondrousova makes her feel that pressure, the better.
Hamilton: This will come down to Vondrousova calming any nerves and again drawing on that remarkable inner belief that has served her so well through these championships. She played against a crowd favorite in the semifinals in Elina Svitolina, and it’s likely to be the same on Saturday versus Jabeur. So it’ll be a case of blocking out the noise and relying on what has served her so well. She’s been aggressive in her returns, and it’s essential that she get off to a quick start.
Maine: Vondrousova has defeated Jabeur twice this season, so she certainly knows what it takes to beat her. Of course, those matches were on hard court against an injury-hampered Jabeur and the Wimbledon title wasn’t at stake, but she still can take valuable information from both of those matches. During their three-set clash at the Australian Open, Jabeur was unable to play her game, and she had 50 unforced errors and had her serve broken eight times. Lefty Vondrousova will have to keep Jabeur from finding her rhythm from the start, plus stop any momentum. The crowd will likely be loudly supporting Jabeur, and Vondrousova will need to tune that out and not get rattled, just like she did against Svitolina.
Roenigk: She can’t play like she did Thursday and expect to win the title. Vondrousova and Svitolina both played error-plagued tennis, but Vondrousova used variety and a strong service game to win in straight sets. She’ll need all of that against Jabeur, and far fewer errors. She’ll also need belief.
Once the world No. 14 and a 2019 French Open finalist, she has proved she can beat the best players in the world. By becoming the first unseeded woman to make the Wimbledon final since Billie Jean King in 1963, she has already inked her name into the record books and cemented her return. Vondrousova has already won. So she should play like she has nothing to lose.
Who will win?
Drysdale: Jabeur to win.
Chris Evert: Jabeur will win because she’s confident, and her past experience of losing two finals will help her to not make the same mistakes of nerves and little belief.
Shriver: I think the third time in a major final will be lucky for Jabeur. But Vondrousova can’t be underestimated — she could win the 12th title since 1978 for a left-handed women’s player born in Czech Republic. (Nine from Martina Navratilova and two titles from Kvitova.)
Stevenson: I’m picking Jabeur. It’s her time — and she has done the work to become Wimbledon Champion. Isn’t it fabulous — and a perfect time in our tennis history — to have Jabeur become the first male or female of Arabic descent to win a major — and the first woman from Africa to win a major.
I’m also picking the Wimbledon crowd. They will always be the ultimate fans, but they will back Jabeur, a player they have come to love — with her all-court eclectic game. Watch for Jabeur’s signature ability to change the rhythm of the match.
Connelly: Jabeur is favored for a reason, and I think the way she’s been serving will make the difference in the end. She was not 100% in either of her losses to Vondrousova earlier this year; she’s in utterly brilliant form at the moment; and I think she’ll take it. Jabeur’s betting line right now, per Caesars, is -220, equivalent to a 69% chance of winning.
But I don’t want to undersell Vondrousova’s chances, either. Vondrousova is 11-6 against top-30 opponents this year, 5-4 against the top 10. And again, she has already beaten Jabeur twice. Vondrousova definitely has a shot.
Hamilton: This has all the hallmarks of being an epic match. I fully expect it to go three sets, and I think it’ll go to form — Vondrousova will win the first set, and Jabeur will come back to win the next two. There’s a steely resolve behind Jabeur’s Wimbledon campaign. She’s clearly fed up with being so close to a Slam only to suffer final heartbreak. Having lost twice to Vondrousova this year, Jabeur knows her well, and this fits nicely into the narrative of Jabeur looking to make amends for past defeats. She’s been called the Minister of Happiness, but she’s been a smiling assassin at Wimbledon. Jabeur in three.
Maine: As Jabeur has said, this tournament has been her revenge tour. She is back in the final after a disappointing runner-up finish in 2022, defeated last year’s champion Rybakina in the quarterfinals and now has the chance to defeat the person who spoiled her Australian Open campaign at the start of the season. I have no concrete evidence of this or statistical proof to back it, but it just feels like Jabeur’s time to win. Ons Jabeur in three sets.
Roenigk: Jabeur. Typically, I’d be inclined to say that her desire to finally breakthrough at a Slam could work against her. Sabalenka has dreamed of being the world No. 1 since she was a kid, and that thought likely crept into her mind and tightened her up late in Thursday’s match. But Jabeur has been clear about her desire to take every advantage of this do-over. On court Thursday, she said that although Vondrousova has beaten her in both of their matchups this season, she’s ready to take revenge. “It’s worked well so far for me this tournament,” she said.