Russian-born Elena Rybakina, who represented Kazakhstan, won the Venus Rosewater Dish at Wimbledon, in a year when Russians were banned from participating at the Championships due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The 23-year-old Rybakina came from behind to beat Tunisian Ons Jabeur 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the women’s singles final on centre court on Saturday (July 9). Rybakina couldn’t hold her tears and broke down when asked what her parents in Moscow would be thinking about her victory.
“Probably they’re going to be proud,” said a teary-eyed Rybakina.
When the moderator asked her “Shall we wrap up there?”, Rybakina added: “You wanted to see emotion (laughing). I kept it in too long.”
“They would be super proud”
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 9, 2022
Rybakina was born in Moscow to Russian parents. In 2018, then Russian junior No. 3 Rybakina changed her nationality to represent Kazakhstan in order to get greater support from the tennis federation.
The No. 17 seed Rybakina became the first player representing Kazakhstan, female or male, to win a major singles title.
When asked if she thinks Russia will try to politicise her victory, the newly crowned champion firmly said: “From my side I can only say that I’m representing Kazakhstan and I didn’t choose where I was born (Moscow). People believed in me, Kazakhstan supported me so much. Even today I heard so many (much) support and I saw the flags, so I don’t know how to answer these questions.”
Talking about her deadpan reaction after winning the title, Rybakina said: “I’m always very calm. I don’t know what should happen but when I was giving my speech, at the end I was thinking I’m going to cry right now, but somehow I held it (in). Maybe later when I’m alone in the room I’m going to cry non-stop, I don’t know.”
Rybakina’s previous best Grand Slam showing came at the 2021 Roland Garros, where she defeated Serena Williams before crashing out in the quarter-finals.
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