Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ella Ling/Shutterstock 13018055bj Catherine Duchess of Cambridge presents the Rosewater Dish to Ladies Singles Champion Elena Rybakina Wimbledon Tennis Championships, Day 13, The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, UK - 09 Jul 2022 Wimbledon Tennis Championships, Day 13, The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, UK - 09 Jul 2022 PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTXHUNxGRExMLTxCYPxROMxBULxUAExKSAxONLY Copyright: xEllaxLing/Shutterstockx 13018055bj

At the thought of her parents, Elena Rybakina still showed great emotions. After the suppressed joy at the surprising Wimbledon triumph on the pitch, the native Russian suddenly shed tears at the press conference in the evening.

The 23-year-old answered the questions about Russia and Vladimir Putin stoically. “From my side I can only say that I represent Kazakhstan. I didn’t choose where I was born,” said Rybakina, who has represented Kazakhstan since 2018.

Because of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, professionals from Russia and Belarus were excluded from Wimbledon. The debate that top players like Daniil Medvedev were missing and that the ATP and WTA organizations did not award world ranking points as a reaction, dominated the headlines for a long time before the tournament.

The fact that a player from Moscow won the women’s competition gave the tournament a political touch at the end. “Wimbledon ended with the very image it had so desperately tried to prevent,” wrote Britain’s Telegraph, outlining the moment Duchess Kate presented the Venus Rosewater Dish to Rybakina as a trophy. “This women’s final produced a photo opportunity that had everyone at the Russian Embassy in London roaring with laughter over their glasses of vodka.”

After her three-set final win against Tunisian Ons Jabeur, Rybakina was asked again if she condemned Russia’s war of aggression and Putin’s actions. “People believed in me. Kazakhstan supported me so much. Also today there was so much support, I saw the flags,” she answered evasively. “I don’t know how to answer these questions.”

When asked about the war earlier in the tournament, she said she wanted it to end as soon as possible. During Wimbledon, Ukrainian players like Lessia Zurenko reported emotionally about their worries about their families back home.

Like several other top professionals, Rybakina had changed nations long before the war, partly because of the prospect of greater funding. She hugged the President of the Kazakh Tennis Association, Bulat Utemuratov, in the stands. The head of state of the Central Asian country, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, congratulated from a distance on a “historic victory” and the first Grand Slam singles title for Kazakhstan.

Rybakina quickly received congratulations for her victory from Russia as well. “We have contributed a lot to their development,” Shamil Tarpishchev, head of the Russian Tennis Union, told the Russian newspaper “Sport-Express”. “Is there any grudge against you? no This is sports. Everyone chooses their own way. That is their right.”