News Elena Rybakina makes history in Wimbledon final fightback

Elena Rybakina makes history in Wimbledon final fightback

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An emotional, ecstatic Elena Rybakina has brushed off her Russian roots after etching her name in the tennis history books as the first Kazakh to win Wimbledon.

Rybakina rallied from a set down to deny Ons Jabeur her own slice of history with a 3-6 6-2 6-2 victory over the Tunisian world No.2 in Saturday’s showdown at the All England Club.

The 23-year-old Rybakina is also the youngest women’s Wimbledon champion since Petra Kvitova in 2011 after reducing Jabeur to a frustrated wreck during the one-hour, 48-minute title decider.

“I didn’t expect I was going to be in the second week of both a grand slam and Wimbledon. To be a winner, it’s just amazing,” Rybakina said after succeeding retired Australian Ash Barty as the new ladies champion.

“Honestly, I don’t have the words to say how happy I am.”

‘I can’t believe it,’ says Elena Rybakina. Photo: AAP

But the Moscow-born star’s triumph was not without controversy as tennis great John McEnroe called her participation into question following the All England Club’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players because of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine.

Rybakina declared her allegiance to Kazakhstan in June 2018, just after her 19th birthday, but is said to still have a home in Russia.

The world No.23 has tried to swat away questions about her defection all tournament, saying she doesn’t really have a base while travelling the globe playing tennis.

“I just think it’s weird because of this whole thing. I don’t mean to get into politics here but she is Russian, right? It is sort of strange because of this whole ordeal of not allowing the Russians to play,” McEnroe said from the comfort of his BBC commentary booth.

“I can only say that I’m representing Kazakhstan. I didn’t choose where I was born,” Rybakina said.

“I’m playing for Kazakhstan very, very long time. I represent on the biggest tournaments, Olympics, which was dream come true.

“People believed in me. Kazakhstan supported me so much. Even today I heard so many support. I saw the flags. So I don’t know how to answer these questions.”

An emotional post-match media conference. Photo: AAP

While Russian men’s world No.1 Daniil Medvedev was among those unable to compete, Rybakina marched through the women’s title for the concession of just two sets.

Rybakina also dropped the opening set in her quarter-final against Australian Ajla Tomljanovic.

But the 17th seed otherwise flattened her vanquished opponents — including grand slam champions Bianca Andreescu and 2019 Wimbledon winner Simona Halep — with her deadly serve and fearless back-court power game.

Leaving a trail of destruction in her wake, Rybakina finished the tournament with an unmatched 53 aces and 161 clean winners.

The public loved the story behind Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur. Photo: AAP

Jabeur had been bidding to become first African woman to win Wimbledon and first Arab to claim a grand slam singles title.

But the 27-year-old was ultimately left to rue being only able to convert two of 11 break-point chances, looking hot and bothered on the warmest day of the championships yet.

“I love this tournament so much and I feel really said but it’s tennis – there is only one winner,” Jabeur said.

“I’m really happy that I’m trying to inspire many generations from my country — I hope they’re listening.”

Elena Rybakina career snapshot

Age: 23

Ranking: 23

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US8,662,000

Career titles: 3

Grand slam titles: 1 (Wimbledon 2022)

Wimbledon win-loss record: 10-1


Ist rd: bt Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 7-6 (7-2) 7-5

2nd rd: bt Bianca Andreescu (CAN) 6-4 7-6 (7-5)
3rd rd: bt Zheng Qinwen (CHN) 7-6 (7-4) 7-5
4th rd: bt Petra Martic (CRO) 7-5 6-3
QF: Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 4-6 6-2 6-3
SF: bt 16-Simona Halep (ROM) 6-3 6-3
F: bt 3-Ons Jabeur (TUN) 3-6 6-2 6-2