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Elena Rybakina’s Win at Wimbledon Raises Questions About Russia

By: Grace Zheng

However impressive, Elena Rybakina’s win at Wimbledon on Saturday was not the outcome most people were hoping for.

She knocked out rising stars, amazing champions, and in the final round, world No. 2 Ons Jabeur. Many people were astounded as Rybakina held her trophy up high over her head.

Unfortunately, the timing for her win was all wrong.

According to an article in the New York Times, Christopher Clarey, the author, writes, “You could feel the letdown on Wimbledon’s player lawn, where tennis officials and a large group of Jabeur supporters, all dressed up with no title to celebrate, were well aware of the story line that might have been.”

Elena Rybakina has played for Kazakhstan since 2018, but never lived there for a long time. She was born and raised in Moscow, Russia, where her parents and most of her closest friends currently live.

Rybakina’s arrival was at an awkward moment for those with connections to Russia. The tournament blocked Russian or Belarusian players this year because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Quite a few questions arose because of Rybakina’s nationality. For example, she was asked if her native country might want to politicize her victory.

“I don’t know,” Rybakina said. “I’m playing for Kazakhstan for a very, very long time. I represent it on the biggest tournaments, the Olympics, which was a dream come true. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I mean, it’s always some news, but I cannot do anything about this.”

This is true. Wimbledon has “barred players who represent Russia, not players who used to represent Russia,” Christopher Clarey writes. “... How do you convincingly paint Rybakina’s success as a bright and shiny tale of Russian triumph when it was Russia’s lack of support for her career that ultimately caused her to switch allegiances?”

Rybakina’s triumph was certainly not one that most were hoping for. But it was still an amazing triumph; she experienced and faced many obstacles, which led to her victory.


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