Czech player Marketa Vondrousova takes on Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur in Wimbledon final in front of a packed crowd featuring Kate, Dame Maggie Smith and Jonathan Van Tam
- The SW19 crowd is packed to the rooftops to watch the women’s battle unfold
- Latest Wimbledon 2023 news, including schedule, travel updates and results
Czech player Marketa Vondrousova is taking on Tunisian Ons Jabeur in a packed out crowd with Princess Kate, Dame Maggie Smith and Jonathan Van Tam in the women’s final at Wimbledon on Saturday afternoon.
Stakes are high for both players as left-handed Jabeur hopes to become the first African woman to win a Grand Slam, while Vondrousova makes history as the first unseeded player to ever make the Wimbledon final in the Open era.
Wimbledon will have crowned a new winner by the end of the match – which could last up to three sets – who will lift the trophy and take home a handy £2.35 million.
The stands are expected to be full ahead of one of the biggest finals on the tennis calendar, with the Princess of Wales already in place.
Officials from both ladies’ countries are also in the royal box to support them in their bid for Wimbledon glory, alongside former tennis stars Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova.
Jabeur (left) and Vondrousova pose at the net before the match begins
Princess of Wales Kate Middleton arrives at Wimbledon on Saturday ahead of the women’s singles final
Both players will also have their own entourage of support from their own boxes, which is believed to include Jabeur’s husband Karim Kamoun, an ex-professional fencer. Vondrousova’s husband Stepan Simek has remained at home so far to look after the couple’s cat.
Jabeur took the early lead in the first set, taking her own service game before gaining two break points and converting the second to go up 2-0.
But a determined Vondrousova fought hard to immediately break back ahead of her own service game – and Jabeur showed early signs of frustration as she expressed anger at herself for losing her advantage.
A year ago, number six in the world Jabeur became the first North African woman, the first Arab woman and the first Muslim woman to make a Grand Slam final.
She was beaten by Elena Rybakina, but made it to another final at the Grand Slam final months later.
Her brilliant comeback win over Aryna Sabalenka on Thursday sealed her place in another final, and the star from a coastal town in Tunisia is on the verge of becoming the first African woman to win a Grand Slam title.
Meanwhile Vondrousova, a former junior world No 1, came into Wimbledon unseeded and has already made history by making the final.
Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova returns to Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur in the final of the women’s singles
Jabeur prepares to serve during the final of the Wimbledon tennis championships
Jabeur and Vondrousova walk out onto Centre Court on Saturday
The players posed with coin tosser Philippa George ahead of the Wimbledon final
Lewis Capaldi and Emma Watson were seen chatting as they watched the action at Wimbledon
Currently ranked at No 42 in the world, the Czech is also the second-lowest ranked player to reach the Wimbledon final since the WTA Rankings were introduced, with only Serena Williams in 2018 (ranked No 181) ranked lower.
Clay was – and is – her preferred surface, it is what she grew up playing on and so when she reached the French Open final in 2019 that felt the natural path to prosperity.
Grass, a surface she previously described as ‘impossible’ for her to excel on, was not part of the script.
Even with her six wins and run to the Wimbledon final, she remarkably still has a losing record on grass, standing at 10 wins and 11 losses. She can level the field with her first ever Grand Slam on Saturday.
No matter who wins out on Saturday, women’s tennis will have a brand new Grand Slam winner – in front of a star-studded crowd.
Everyone will stay dry, with the Centre Court roof firmly on amid weather warnings for strong winds in place in the UK. Patchy rain has also been seen in the capital, but there will be no rain delay to this match.
The Princess of Wales arrived at Wimbledon early ahead of taking a seat in the Royal Box to watch the ladies’ singles final.
Kate will make her way to Centre Court to see Vondrousova take on Jabeur from 2pm.
Wearing a pale green skirt and top, the princess chatted with Wimbledon staff, including a ball girl and ball boy, at the Players’ Lawn.
As a patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Kate is a regular face at SW19.
She had a rain-hit visit on the tournament’s second day when she took shelter under an umbrella on Court 18, where she was watching British number one Katie Boulter.
In the afternoon, she made her way to the Royal Box where she was joined by former champion Roger Federer.
The Princess of Wales was spotted chatting with a ball boy and ball girl ahead of the final
No matter who wins out on Saturday, women’s tennis will have a brand new Grand Slam winner
Jabeur (above) celebrates after beating Aryna Sabalenka to reach Saturday’s Wimbledon final
Vondrousova comes from a lineage of sporting stars and is herself thriving in tennis
She remarkably still has a losing record on grass, with 10 wins and 11 losses ahead of the final
The world No 6 is on the cusp of becoming the first African woman to win a Grand Slam title
Fans vented their disappointment on Saturday morning after organisers closed the Wimbledon queue due to a yellow weather warning for wind, in place from 9am to 11.59pm.
Met Office spokesperson Nicola Maxey previously warned: ‘There is a [yellow wind warning] on Saturday covering Wimbledon and may well impact the competition.
‘That will bring blustery conditions and, again, rain and showers are expected.’
Czech finalist draws eyes across the club – but it’s not all for her tennis!
Vondrousova has stood out from the crowd for more than one reason at Wimbledon.
While the white outfits make one tennis star look like another, the Czech has distinctive features which make her unnmistakable.
She began her love affair with tattoos as a teenager with various designs, both with a tattoo gun and also through stick-and-poke.
‘I actually got the first one when I was 16 for my birthday and I don’t know, I felt like I wanted more!’ Vondrousova told the BBC.
‘It’s art for me and I have 3 or 4 (tattoo artists) I go to in Prague.’
As for her many designs – she is largely selective on how much she reveals publicly.
One, visible on her right tricep, reads ‘no rain, no flowers’.
It feels apt for a player that, 12 months ago was missing this tournament injured and watching like the rest of us.
Wimbledon tweeted a reminder ahead of gates opening: ‘Please remember the Queue is not in operation today and as such there are no tickets available for sale.
‘We ask that you do not travel to Wimbledon today unless you are an existing ticket holder.’
Kathy Yates, 54, and her son Daniel Yates, 27, were turned away at the gates when they tried to queue for ground passes on Saturday.
The pair had taken a flight from Aberdeen and stayed in a hotel on Friday night for a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ to watch the tournament.
Ms Yates said: ‘We have spent well over £300. Two of our other family members have got tickets in the ballot.
‘We all came down together. We have been queuing since 7am this morning.
‘We have been planning for this for a long time. We don’t often get together. I have one son who lives in Edinburgh.
‘We made this as a family get-together and half the family can get in and half the family can’t.’
Tiago Veloso, 48, and his 15-year-old son Vincente arrived at Wimbledon at around 8am to queue for tickets.
Mr Veloso said: ‘We came yesterday. It was terrible weather. The rain cancelled all the games and we came today to see the ground games, the under-14s and juniors, because (my son) wanted to watch.
‘I don’t understand, yesterday was the worst of the weather. I don’t understand the decision.
‘It is a very frustrating morning. We had a lot of expectations because the weather yesterday was terrible and we were not expecting this today.’
Met Office spokesperson Nicola Maxey previously told the PA news agency: ‘There is a (yellow wind warning) on Saturday covering Wimbledon and may well impact the competition.
‘That will bring blustery conditions and, again, rain and showers are expected.’
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