'Cristiano made me a Real fan' - Jabeur on her love of football

1 month ago 354

Ons Jabeur

Venue: All England Club Dates: 27 June-10 July
Coverage: Live across BBC TV, radio and online with extensive coverage on BBC iPlayer, Red Button, Connected TVs and mobile app.

Tunisia's Ons Jabeur, the women's world number two, is the latest top player to do an exclusive BBC Sport column at a Grand Slam tournament.

Before her third-round match at Wimbledon against France's Diane Parry on Friday, Ons discusses her love of football and how Cristiano Ronaldo turned her into a Real Madrid fan.

Football is my other sporting passion and if I wasn't a tennis player then I'm sure I would be a footballer.

I love watching football and I'm a huge Cristiano Ronaldo fan. He's a great athlete and just an inspiration for me.

When Cristiano played at Juventus I managed to get a signed shirt from him - that was incredible.

I became a Real Madrid fan thanks to Cristiano.

When I played video football games when I was younger, I always picked Real Madrid and since then I love the team.

I was pretty sad when Cristiano left but I'm always following him, as well as still following Real.

So now I'm a Manchester United fan too and if he goes anywhere else then I will support that team for sure.

Cristiano Ronaldo watches the Madrid Open tennis 2017Cristiano Ronaldo was often seen watching the Madrid Open during his spell at Real Madrid

It's on my bucket list to go and see a Real Madrid match.

I'd also love to see any Premier League match because I think the Premier League is the best league in the world.

It's a pity there are no games on while I'm here for Wimbledon, but it could be difficult to have the time to go anyway because playing tennis is obviously the main focus.

When I'm playing at the Madrid Open I always want to go the Bernabeu to watch a match and I especially wanted to go this year because Real had a massive Champions League game against Manchester City.

But I was playing a match the next day so it meant I missed one of the greatest matches in the history of football!

I can't believe I didn't get to go and see such an amazing comeback, but it all turned out well because I ended up going on to win the Madrid title.

That Champions League game was the night when Karim Benzema scored the winning goal - I love him too. He's of Algerian heritage so there is an Arabic connection for me.

I haven't had the chance to meet him or Cristiano but I hope I can do it one day!

Maybe they might go to the Madrid Open next year and it could happen then.

A lot of Real Madrid players, current ones like Luka Modric and legends like Raul and Luis Figo, go to watch the tennis. I hope I can have the chance to meet them next year.

'I always have the energy to play football'

I grew up with my two brothers and sister and I preferred to play football with my brothers rather than playing with dolls.

I started playing football when I was really young, like when I was 10, but when people saw me they said 'she's a girl and she's young so I'm not sure if she plays good'.

Then they passed me the ball and when I started playing they were like 'wow, OK, she's a really good player'.

They were really surprised at how I could play and I suppose that was when I started to break down barriers of what was expected of girls.

I played everywhere. I played on the beach, where we used to make goals with clothes and bags. We played in our house and broke a lot of things, which my mum wasn't happy with.

I played with my family. I used to get angry at my brothers when they went to play without me.

I still play all the time. Sometimes when I'm really tired of doing maybe four or five hours of tennis, plus fitness, my coach Issam comes and says 'you want to play more tennis?' I say I'm really tired and he says 'OK, let's go play football'.

Then I jump to my feet and I'm pumped. I have always have the energy to play football.

I play matches but only between my family and close friends. I always try to choose people that I know so I don't get injured. I tried to be careful with that.

Every time I go to Tunisia, I try to organise football matches with the tennis players that I know.

And of course I always wear my favourite Real Madrid shirt and play on the same team as my husband Karim.

When I play, I'm a striker. I really like to score.

I'd say Ons the footballer is the same version as Ons the tennis player: I always like to fight for every ball, to play in an entertaining way and, of course, to win!

Ons Jabeur was speaking to BBC Sport's Jonathan Jurejko at Wimbledon.

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