“It would mean everything to me” : ElSherbini on a possible 8th world title

Women’s World No.1 Nour ElSherbini has made the World Championships her own over the last several years, reaching the final in eight of the last ten, claiming seven titles. The Egyptian is currently on a win streak of 30 matches at World Championships, last tasting defeat in the 2017 final against Raneem Elwelily.

The 28-year-old is one win away from matching Malaysian legend Nicol David on eight titles and has admitted that it would mean everything to her to do so. We caught up with her to talk through her memories of the World Championships before she started to feature in them herself, her rivalry with Nouran Gohar and her ambitions for a sixth consecutive World Title.

“My first memory of watching a World Championships was from the event in Hurgada, watching Omeya Abdel Kawy,” said ElSherbini.

“I didn’t know much about her but my Dad told me all about her and how good she was. My first time I went in person was at the pyramids, the men’s only event in 2006. Our club in Alexandria organised a big bus to take a load of the juniors to go and we watched [Amr] Shabana. I think It was the one where he lost to David Palmer. Everyone was wanting him to win so much and I think it was the first time the championships had been in Egypt. 

“The World Championships are always so inspiring. The growth of most players will always come from watching the best players in the world at that time. For me, knowing about Omneya and watching her was great because I pictured myself being on those courts one day and going to watch Shabana gave me the same feeling.”

ElSherbini’s reached her first World Championships final in the 2013 event in Kuala Lumpur downing three top five seeds including a momentous win over top seed Nicol David in her own backyard. A big indicator to the rest of the women’s tour that Nour El Sherbini had arrived.

“I remember not only beating Nicol [David] in the final, but I beat some really good players on route. The likes of Alison Waters, Joelle King, Kasey Brown and Madeline Perry. They were all in the top 10 at the time so those wins were really big for me.

“Beating Nicol for the first time was surreal, just sharing the court with her was a dream and to beat her in her favourite tournament in her home country was a lot to handle at such a young age but still an amazing feeling. I remember Raneem, Nour [El Tayeb] and Omneya cheering for me so that was really nice as well.”


The year after, expectations were high of ElSherbini who now found herself sitting at World No.4 looking for a first World title. A first meeting of many to come against Nouran Gohar halted that dream for at least another year as last years runner up fell at the first hurdle.

“I unfortunately remember this loss. It hurt me so much, it broke me actually. Being so young was a factor, I wasn’t that mature and I wasn’t thinking the right way. Nouran [Gohar] was still young too but because of the year before, all the pressure was on me. I don’t think we’d played before but I wasn’t focusing on the match, I just wanted to be around the event and see friends but I think it was a good lesson for me to learn early in my career.

“It wasn’t about me and Nour at that time, there were many other players that were competing for the top titles. For both of us, playing against the likes of Laura [Massaro], Camille [Serme], Nicol, Raneem – they were the tough matches at the time. The next year we played in the semi-finals after she beat Camille so maybe that match was a set up for what wasto come. It’s just a generational thing, we were the young players coming through 8/10 years ago and now we’re the experienced ones.”

ElSherbini now has seven titles to her name, just one behind Nicol David. The Egyptian has admitted that it would mean everything to her to match David’s record but never imaged she would be in the position to do so.

“It would mean everything to me. I never expected to win seven at all. I just wanted to win one but now that I am on seven, it would mean a lot to join Nicol on eight titles and to be in the same bracket as her would be such an honour. She’s a great of the game and someone that everyone looked up to. At the minute, I just want to focus on my game and win the title. I will think about it if I win it but I just want to win it.”

Obviously all of the World Championships that the World No.1 has claimed in her career are treasured, but one in particular stands out.

“I’d pick that first one, it was so special for me. That match was so tough. My Dad and I are very close, we have this eye contact and in that moment he knows how I’m feeling and I know what he wants from me without us speaking. He could see that I wasn’t myself and I was very tense in the first two games. Laura is so clever on court, so tactical so she was going to be so tricky to beat.

“My dad told [Amr] Shabana, who was our national coach at the time, to get me to laugh a bit. Just try and get the tension out and I don’t think we talked about squash at all in-between games. From there I relaxed so much and my game started to come back and I felt great from that moment. It was a very special, special moment for me.”