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Elena Rybakina takes home Wimbledon Title, upsetting crowd favorite Ons Jabeur
By: Vivian She
Elena Rybakina, ranked No. 23 in the world, defeated the No.2 in the world, Ons Jabeur, to snatch the Wimbledon title for women’s singles at the Saturday final on Centre Court. The match ended 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Throughout the tournament, Rybakina rose through the ranks mercilessly, knocking out newcomers and former champions alike, including teenager Zheng Qinwen and Grand Slam champion Simona Halep.
However, despite Rybakina’s impressive victories, it was clear that the crowd favorite was Jabeur from the very beginning. Jabeur is nicknamed the “Minister of Happiness,” and is a symbolic figure, as she is an Arab and African woman that is succeeding at the highest level of a worldwide sport.
Rybakina, on the other hand, has played for the nation of Kazakhstan since 2018 but was born and raised in Russia, where lived until the war with Ukraine broke out this year. These are awkward connections for Rybakina, as the tournament banned all Russian and Belarusian players this year in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
When confronted about her Russian connections, Rybakina responded “I didn’t choose where I was born. People believed in me. Kazakhstan supported me so much. Even today, I heard so much support.”
Her Croatian coach, Stefano Vukov, adds that “To be honest, we’ve always been underdogs, anyone coming from Eastern Europe. We’ve always had to fight against windmills to break through. It’s not as easy as for other federations from other countries. Thank God the Kazakhstan federation has been supporting her.”
Despite Rybakina’s clear allegiance to Kazakhstan, Shamil Tarpischev, the president of the Russian Tennis Federation, claimed “we have won Wimbledon” to Russian state media. This certainly is a hollow statement, as it was the lack of support Rybakina received in Russia that ultimately caused her to change her allegiance.
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