Last April, Wimbledon officials decided to ban Russian players from their tournament. Ironically, it was a Russian-born player who won the women’s Grand Slam title on Saturday.
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Elena Rybakina, born and raised in Moscow but who has played for Kazakhstan since 2018, won 3-6, 6-2 and 6-2 against world number 2 Ons Jabeur.
At the same time, she became the first player from Kazakhstan to win a Grand Slam title. At 23, she is the youngest Wimbledon champion since Petra Kvitova in 2011. She gets her hands on a check for CAD 3.1 million.
“I can’t believe it,” Elena Rybakina said at a press conference. Maybe in a few days I will realize what I just did.
“I’m super proud of myself, my team and everyone who works with me. It was difficult and I think we did it together.
Rybakina put in a great performance to take the win. In the first set, she was broken in her second serve game. From then on, Jabeur picked up the pace and followed her game plan to the letter. The Tunisian was in control of the match thanks to a great variety in her attacks.
However, the tide has turned since the opening moments of the second race. Rybakina took matters into her own hands with a break from the start. She gained confidence in her abilities and started chaining the good shots.
The inconstancy of Jabeur
For his part, Jabeur was unable to seize opportunities to curb the momentum of his young rival. She was unable to convert four break points in that set. As we have seen on several occasions since the start of the tournament, Jabeur has shown inconsistency.
If she has been able to get out of trouble in her previous matches, this has not been the case with Rybakina. She entered her door that opened on her.
The Kazakh crushed Jabeur at the start of the third set. A hard blow. The last point of this meeting came at 3-2 in favor of Rybakina. Jabeur had the chance to bring the two players back to the starting point with three break points. Once again, he has failed.
The rest of the meeting was a formality for Rybakina. After confirming her triumph, the new champion had a reserved reaction. We were far from the cheers of the other champions.
“He deserves this title, stressed Ons Jabeur. I’m sad about the turn of events, but it’s part of tennis. There can be only one winner.
“For me it was a great experience. I am sure I will learn a lot from this game. It is a positive two weeks for me. I’ll keep my head up ”.
A nationality that leaves doubts
To return to his ties to Russia, Rybakina was asked several questions during his journey to great honors on London soil.
“I have been representing Kazakhstan for several years and I am very happy,” he said. They believe in me. I have no doubts in my mind. I represented this country at the Olympics and the Fed Cup.
“I am a tennis player and I am happy to be here. I try to do my best. Too bad for the players (Russian and Belarusian) who could not participate in the tournament.
He tried putting the lid on the pot several times.
“I was born in Russia and I represent Kazakhstan. I don’t know why I have to go back to this. I have already answered several questions on this topic.
“During my matches the president of the Kazakh federation came to encourage me. It’s big. It’s incredible support. “