Russian-born Rybakina triumphs at Wimbledon (VIDEO)


Еlеnа Rybаkіnа, who represents Kazakhstan, outlasted Ons Jabeur in the Wimbledon ladies’ final on Saturday

Еlеnа Rybаkіnа has collected her maiden Grand Slam title after besting Ons Jabeur in the Wimbledon ladies’ final in front of a packed Center Court crowd at the All England Club in London on Saturday by a score of 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

The Moscow-born 23-year-old, who has represented Kazakhstan on the world stage for the past several years, started slowly against the third seed Jabeur, but stormed out of the blocks in the second and third sets to claim a comprehensive victory backed by her vast array of powerful serves and a canny short game close to the net to neuter any threats that her Tunisian opponent could muster down the stretch.

The victory makes her the youngest Wimbledon winner since 2011.

She certainly didn’t have it all her own way. Rybаkіnа started the slower of the two, with Jabeur – who was bidding to become the first Arab winner of a Grand Slam – breaking Rybаkіnа’s serve twice, as well as showcasing her uncanny ability to place drop shots just over the net and out of Rybаkіnа’s reach.

But this was where Jabeur’s dominance ended.

Rybаkіnа’s unlikely journey to the final had been predicated on a suffocating service game which came to life in the second set – but more than that, she appeared to learn her lessons from the first set and began to predict when, or more crucially where, Jabeur would opt for delicate lobs over the next.

The third saw more of the same. Jabeur certainly had her moments but lady luck was smiling on Rybаkіnа, with more than one challenge going in her favor late in the match. This was her match now, and everyone watching knew it.

Jabeur had no such luck, unsuccessfully using the last of challenges late in the third set as the match ebbed away from her.

When victory came, Rybаkіnа raised a solitary fist in the air and became the first Kazakhstani to win at a Grand Slam singles tournament, despite being born in Russia and representing the country of her birth until shortly before her 20th birthday.

Indeed, the irony of a Russian-born winner at Wimbledon in a year in which players from Russia and Belarus are banned from the competition is perhaps one which won’t have been lost on any of those lucky enough to witnessed history inside a packed Center Court – let alone the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, who was tasked with awarding Rybаkіnа her newly-acquired silverware.

I was super nervous before the match, during the match and I’m happy it’s finished to be honest. Really I have never felt something like this. I want to thank the crowd for the support, it was unbelievable these two weeks,” she said afterwards.

But also I want to congratulate Ons for a great match and everything you have achieved. I think you are an inspiration for everybody. You have an amazing game. We don’t have someone like this on tour and it is a joy to play against you. I ran so much, I don’t think I need to do fitness anymore.

Thank you so much. It is just an unbelievable atmosphere. Thank you.

It’s true I did not expect to be in the second week of a Grand Slam at Wimbledon. To be a winner is just amazing. I don’t have the words to say how happy I am.

But I wouldn’t be here without my team of course, so I want to say a big thanks to them. I want to say thanks to my coach, my sponsors, everyone. The most important is my parents of course, they are not here so I am very sorry. My sister is here and it is just the third time she comes to watch so I’m happy she is here. Without my parents I wouldn’t be here for sure. Thank you so much everyone.”

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