WIMBLEDON, England — Too nervous to scream, Elena Rybakina stepped into the Center Court sunshine ahead of the Wimbledon final Saturday, a firm double grip on the black and red straps of her racquet bag slung over her shoulders.
No wave. Didn’t see much around. His game also betrayed some jitters early on, which makes sense considering it was his Grand Slam debut.
After almost two hours of big swinging and plenty of sprinting, he won the championship at the All England Club with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over Ons Jabur – his first singles trophy at a major. adopted country of Kazakhstan.
Even then, Rybakina’s reaction was quiet, a slight sigh, a hint of a smile.
“Honestly, I’m glad it’s over,” the 23-year-old said, “because I’ve never felt anything like it.”
She was born in Moscow and has represented Kazakhstan since 2018 when the country provided funds to support her tennis career. The change was a topic of conversation during Wimbledon as it prevented all players representing Russia or Belarus from entering the tournament due to the war in Ukraine.
Since the WTA computer rankings began in 1975, only one woman ranked lower than No. 23 has won Wimbledon — Venus Williams was No. 31 in 2007, though she has already won three of her five career Wimbledon titles.
Rybakina overcame No. 2 seed Japour’s varied style with a big serve and powerful forehand to end the 27-year-old Tunisian’s 12-match winning streak. Grass courts.
“You have an amazing game, I don’t think we have someone like that on this tour,” Rybakina told Zabier during the post-match trophy ceremony, then added this one-liner: “I ran a lot today, so I didn’t. I honestly didn’t feel like exercising.”.
Zabiur also made his first Grand Slam final.
“She deserves this. I hope the next time will be mine,” said Zabiur, whose enthusiasm and personality on the court earned him the nickname “Minister of Happiness”.
“Elena stole my title,” Xavier joked, “but that’s okay.”
In the third game of the match, Zabir read Rybakina’s serves and created fewer opportunities for baseline power. A squash-style forehand flicked a forehand into the net to earn a break point, which Jaber served at 120 mph for a 2-1 lead.
Jabir turned towards his guest box and jumped up and shouted.
Rybakina’s mistakes increased. A volley at the net tape with the full court open. A netted forehand after Jabur got a small return. Jaber broke to love to take the opening set when another forehand flopped, shouting “Yalla!” — Arabic for “let’s go!” – throwing an uppercut as she walks to the side.
Zabeer was attempting to become the first Arab or African woman to win a Slam singles title in the professional era dating back to 1968.
“I love this match very much. I feel very sad. But this is tennis. There is only one winner,” Jaber said. “I’m very happy to try to inspire generations from my country. I hope they listen.”
Rybakina, who beat Serena Williams at last year’s French Open, had her first break chance to open the second set and was 1-0 up when Zabir missed a forehand. After saving four break points in her next two service games, Rybakina broke back and quickly took a 5-1 lead.
Jabir leads the women’s tour with 13 wins in three-setters this season, but Rybakina came out stronger in the decider.
He broke once again to start the third game, going up 3-1.
Zabir had to find a way to cut down on his mistakes and came close to turning things around when he fell behind 3-2 in the third. She won a pair of points with a drop shot and a lob to turn it into love-40 on Rybakina’s serve.
But Rybakina destroyed all three break points and took the game with a 119-mile serve. A hold there made it 4-2, and Rybakina quickly broke back. Now she was one game away from the biggest win of her career – and she had to serve for that.
That game started off with Rybakina’s red rocket at 117 mph. It ended with Jabir not coming back.
Any fear, any uneasiness felt by Rypakina disappears. Soon she entered the green wall near the front row seats to go through the stands to hug her coach, her sister, and others.
Now she was and forever will be, the Wimbledon champion.
Will Russia Try to Politicize Elena Rybakina’s Wimbledon Win?
Wimbledon, England – The first Wimbledon win was not recorded with Elina Rybakina.
With a match point against Anse Zabir, Rybakina clenched her left fist slightly, wiped her mouth with her wrist band, exhaled, advanced toward the net, shook a crestfallen Zabir’s hand, and then waved very hurriedly toward the crowd. Queen Elizabeth waves to the hoi polloi out of her carriage window.
Rybakina was all smiles after her 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory. Even by English standards.
Nine-time Wimbledon singles champion Martina Navratilova said: “She won the trophy for the least emotional Slam win.
But Rybakina’s feelings were not surprisingly hidden, and hours later, after posing with the gilded dish presented to the champion, she was asked at her press conference how her parents would react to her victory. When I finally got a chance to talk to them.
“Probably, they would be very proud,” she began to tear up.
“You wanted to see emotion,” she said, struggling to regain her composure. “Hold it long enough.”
It was a more emotional moment than anything else on Saturday’s Center Court, a Shakespearean scene of many breakthroughs and breakdowns over the decades, including Jana Novotna crying on the Duchess of Kent’s shoulder. 1993 lead over Steffi Graf in the final.
History, all demons on grass, can hit a player hard when trying to get into the club, and both Rybakina and Jaber had to overcome early jitters as they played in their first Grand Slam finals.
Real stylistic contrast is rare in major tournaments in the women’s game, but Rybakina and Jaber offered plenty of contrast when exploring the backcourt and frontcourt of tennis’ most popular showplace.
The lanky and long-legged 6-foot Rybakina, who represents Kazakhstan, has an intimidating first- and second-serve pace that can match the speed of the men’s tour.
Stockier and less Tunisian, Zabeer is a creative force: jaunting around the court between points and making drop shots and sudden changes of rhythm once they start.
But in this new arrival’s final, the first at Wimbledon between two major women’s singles finalists since 1962, Karen Suzman of the United States defeated Czechoslovakia’s Vera Chukova.
“I didn’t play my best tennis, let’s say in the second and third set,” Zabir said. “She started to be more aggressive. I think she entered the court more and put more pressure. That, unfortunately, I didn’t see a solution today.
Rybakina’s ability to lead big points with sang-froid and well-timed serves is remarkable and never more effective than when she survived a 0-40 deficit to win 3-2 in the third set.
But that upsurge was something Dennis had watched from his coach, Stefano Vukov, a Croatian, from the players’ box on Saturday. He noticed that when he first decided to work with him at the end of the 2018 season.
“Everybody feels the nerves, but she’s a very clutch player,” he said. “She showed me up in the first matches we played. When the scores were close, she always came out the winner of these close matches. So, it was mostly effortless for her, just her personality and her style of play.
His success at Wimbledon was impressive, but not what most craved on Center Court or on the payrolls of the All England Club.
No. Zabiur, at No. 2, is not only a sympathetic figure but deeply symbolic of an Arab woman succeeding at the highest level of a sport that aspires to be truly global. Rybakina ranked 23, plays for Kazakhstan but is a Russian, born, raised, and, until this year, living in Moscow, where her parents still live.
Wimbledon once held another tall, blonde Russian rookie, Maria Sharapova, who won the title in 2004 at the age of 17. But Rybakina’s arrival comes at an awkward moment for those with Russian connections. All Russian and Belarusian players (and journalists) were banned from competing this year due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The move came after pressure from the British government led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who resigned. But the embargo would deprive Russia and its leadership of the opportunity to use any Russian victory in the tournament for propaganda.
Rybakina, who began representing Kazakhstan in 2018, was asked if her home country would try to politicize her victory.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I have been playing for Kazakhstan for a very long time. To represent it at the biggest competition, the Olympics is a dream come true. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I mean, it’s always some news, but I can’t do anything about it.
That is certainly true. Wimbledon, after all, has banned players representing Russia, not players who have represented Russia. It is a challenge to see how the Russian government or sports authorities can use Rybakina’s victory as a bright and shiny story of Russian success.
“I didn’t choose where I was born,” he said. “People believed in me. Kazakhstan supported me a lot. Even today, I hear so much support. I saw the flags, so I don’t know how to answer these questions.
She is not the first Russian tennis player to represent Kazakhstan with money and facilities. She is not the first tennis player to represent another country with money and facilities.