An Unexpected Wimbledon Turnout as Elena Rybakinan Wins the Tournament Title
By: Sarah Wang
On the 9th, a poker-faced Elena Rybakinan won the final Wimbledon match against competitor Ons Jabeur. Rybakinan had knocked out former Grand Slam champions Bianca Andreescu and Simona Halep, on top of beating No.2 player Ons Jabeur in the final round.
It was not the outcome many fans of Jabeur were rooting for. It was evident from the crowd’s cheers to the payrolls of the All England Club that Rybakinan was not who they had expected to win. Although many were disappointed at the results of the match, they accepted Rybakinan’s 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory with grace.
Due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Wimbledon did not allow players representing Russia or Belarus to participate in the tournament. However, even though Rybakinan is Russian, she has been representing Kazakhstan at Wimbledon since 2018, though she has never lived in Kazakhstan for an extended period.
Wimbledon also prohibited Russian journalists from attending the tournament to prevent Russia from using any possible victors as propaganda for the country. Interviewers asked Rybakinan if Russia would still attempt to politicize her victory.
“I don’t know,” she admitted, “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.”
Some Russian news sources have been claiming that they’ve won Wimbledon. However, the claim is hard to believe due to the fact that Rybakinan only switched representatives because of Russia’s lack of support in her career. Even though Rybakinan has yet to make a comment over her opinion on the Ukraine invasion, it’s clear to see where her support lies tennis-wise.
“I didn’t choose where I was born,” she said. “People believed in me. Kazakhstan supported me so much. Even today, I heard so much support. I saw the flags, so I don’t know how to answer these questions.”