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Elena Rybakina Wins Wimbledon at Awkward Moment

By: Tianhao Chen

At Wimbledon, world ranked 23rd Elena Rybakina shocked the world when she won the finals, beating Ons Jabeur, ranked 2nd in the world, with a score of 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

She used her powerful serves, effective wins, and great defense, to beat many strong players en route to the final, including two previous Grand Slam winners.

Rybakina was born and raised in Russia, representing them until 2018 when she switched to represent Kazakhstan. Her victory at the Wimbledon this past Saturday, July 9th, came at an awkward time, as Russians and Belarusian athletes were banned from playing in the tournament. Since Rybaka doesn’t currently represent Russia, she was still allowed to play in the tournament.

The ban attempted to prevent Russia from propagandizing Russian victories at the Wimbledon. When reporters asked Rybakina if Russia will propagandize her victory, she responded, “I don’t know, 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.”

Nonetheless, Shamil Tarpischev, president of the Russian Tennis Federation, proclaimed to Russian media that her victory was a Russian victory. Ironic, given Ryankina’s reason for leaving Russia was due to no support for her from Russia.

Stefano Vukov, Rybakina’s coach, and Rybakina herself acknowledged the pressure she had as the tournament progressed due to her background. However, he commented how none of it increased pressure for her, saying, “[w]e had the same issues when she switched to Kazakhstan to play for them. The Russians absolutely were questioning why, why, why. So flip it around, it’s the same story, just in a different shape. She’s been through it already.”

It was a touching moment during the news conference when reporters asked Rybakina how her parents would react to the win. She responded, “[p]robably, they’re going to be super proud,” and started to tear up, as she hadn’t seen them since February due to the war. “You wanted to see emotion. Kept it too long,” she said.

Although this victory was unexpected from the crowd, it was a huge triumph for Rykania, as it was a result of hard work and many sacrifices.

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