Russian-born Elena Rybakina became Kazakhstan’s first Grand Slam champion after defeating Ons Jabeur and winning the Wimbledon title.
In the first women’s singles final at the All England Club between two new Slam finalists in 60 years, the 23-year-old won 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 after falling behind in a set.
Rybakina has shown that she’s a worthy Major champion with her exceptional ball swing and calm temper, but she found herself caught in a storm she didn’t create herself.
When Wimbledon organizers decided to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes after invading Ukraine, it was partly to avoid propaganda opportunities should the British royal family present the trophy to a player from either of those two countries.
It was therefore more than awkward that the Duchess of Cambridge actually gifted the Venus Rosewater Dish to a player who was born and raised in Russia and is reportedly still living there, but joined Kazakhstan four years ago for financial reasons.
Russian media celebrated Rybakina’s success, and the result shows how difficult it is to implement such a policy in an individual and very international sport.
Tunisia’s Jabeur has paved a path for Arabic tennis and hoped to become the first African woman to win a singles Grand Slam title on the Muslim holiday of Eid Al Adha.
But she was unable to maintain a stellar start to the match and instead it was the more consistent Rybakina who worked her way back into the match before claiming victory with her first match point, offering just the faintest cheer to indicate that she had just reached the biggest moment of her career.
Jabeur was quick to dodge a question this week about the political unrest in Britain unfolding a few miles away by branding herself the “minister of happiness”.
She suffered from nervousness at the French Open and did not get past the first round as one of the title favorites, but Jabeur appeared to be having the time of her life in the early stages on Center Court.
She hopped and leaped around on the grass and let out a loud scream as she broke Rybakina in the third game.
The 23-year-old’s serve carried her all the way to the final, but Jabeur hit it straight away and had no problem dealing with the flat pace of her opponent’s groundstrokes.
Jabeur has won more games than any other player since the start of last season after taking time to grow into the varied game that is now her greatest strength.
The sweetest backhand pass in game four had the crowd gasping, and she confidently handled the pressure moments to win the opener.
One of the most enjoyable things about the final was the clash of styles and early in the second set, when Jabeur threw in a sloppy hold at love, it was Rybakina’s power that started to take over.
She began reading and chasing Jabeur’s drop shots, and after the Tunisian failed to score any of the three breakback points in game four, Rybakina pulled away and leveled the match with an ace.
Jabeur had to fight back the momentum early in the deciding set, but Rybakina wouldn’t let her, leaving the third seed screaming at her box in frustration as tactics that worked in the opening set were met with a superior response.
The crowd was all behind Jabeur and it seemed like her moment had come as she beat Rybakina 40-0 in game six only for the Kazakh to escape and it should prove her last chance.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/other-sports/tennis/russia-born-elena-rybakina-beats-ons-jabeur-to-claim-wimbledon-title-41827337.html Russian-born Elena Rybakina beats Ons Jabeur to claim Wimbledon title