Cara Black backs Ons Jabeur to deal with the pressure of being Africa's top tennis player

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Tunisian tennis player Ons JabeurTunisian tennis player Ons Jabeur has won three career singles titles to climb to second in the WTA rankings

Cara Black has backed Tunisia's Ons Jabeur to cope with both the pressure of being Africa's top tennis player and her bid to win a first Grand Slam title.

Zimbabwean Black, who reached number one in the world as a doubles player, admits that coping with the expectations of not only her country but a whole continent is going to be one of Jabeur's main challenges.

Jabeur rose to number two in the WTA rankings on Monday to make her the highest-ever ranked African singles player (male or female) in the open era.

The 27-year-old followed the news with a straight-sets win over Mirjam Bjorklund in the first round at Wimbledon, where she will play Poland's Katarzyna Kawa in the second round on Wednesday.

Jabeur is looking to progress past the quarter-finals of a slam for the first time, having lost in the first round a the French Open last month.

"That is probably one of the biggest things that Ons is going to have to try and face," Black told BBC Sport Africa.

"Coming off of the big win in Madrid and then final in Rome and then getting to the French Open, she felt like she was one of the hot favourites.

"Whereas before she's gone into the slams under the radar a little, now she's in the spotlight.

"I think she's just going to try to manage that, in terms of trying not to add that pressure and expectation on herself, but more feel that everyone's behind her and try and embrace it.

"She's such a smart girl, she's learning as she's going along and she said that the French Open was a big learning curve for her.

"One of the quotes she said was 'A couple of bad things have to happen before good things come' - that was such an impressive statement.

"She's so mature like that and I think she's taking everything on board. So hopefully here she'll be able to just calm those nerves and just go out there and play as free as she can."

Jabeur 'flying the flag for Africa'

Cara Black and Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 2019Five-time Wimbledon champion Cara Black returned to play with Martina Navratilova in the invitational doubles in 2019

Jabeur herself has actually welcomed the expectations that come with her position as Africa's top tennis player.

"Pressure is a privilege so I try to use that be positive - I always wanted to be at this level, I always want to play like this," she told BBC World Service Sport after her 6-1 6-3 victory over Bjorklund.

"Hopefully I am just gonna handle the pressure much better by getting used to it. I love the attention as well - my family tells me that it's a good thing.

"[I'm] very happy with the with the way I was playing lately and proud with the personality that I've developed.

"The person that I am on the court and outside the court is really important for me, and I feel like I'm going in the right way. Now the next goal would be number one."

Black has won five Wimbledon titles across women's and mixed doubles and is back at the tournament this year as a coach, and will also take part in the invitational doubles.

She says that Jabeur's achievement is "absolutely incredible" for the sport in Africa.

"Just saying that she is 'world number two' gives me goosebumps," the 43-year-old added,

"I'm actually not surprised that she is where she is because she's an incredible talent, she's worked super hard and has got such a great attitude.

"She can adapt so well to the grass, to the clay and hard courts. She is a unique player, she's got beautiful touch and feel and just knows her way around the court.

"I just hope everyone gets behind her - which I know they already are. But it is such an inspiration for the kids back home and she really is flying the flag for Africa."

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