Jelena Rybakina clenched her fist, blew a little and acknowledged her triumph without much emotion at first. The 23-year-old crowned herself with the Wimbledon title and is the first Kazakh winner of a Grand Slam tournament. Rybakina turned the final on Saturday against Ons Jabeur from Tunisia, second in the world rankings, 3: 6, 6: 2, 6: 2 and celebrated the greatest success of her career.
Jabeur, who defeated Tatjana Maria in the semifinals, initially dominated the game. Rybakina fought back with her powerful game in front of celebrities like Duchess Kate and actor Tom Cruise.
The native Russian, who changed her nationality in 2018, will receive two million British pounds (equivalent to 2.36 million euros) for her triumph. Jabeur gets £1.05million missing out on Arab and African player’s first Grand Slam title
Because of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, professionals from Russia and Belarus were excluded from Wimbledon. Moscow-born Rybakina had said several times during the tournament that she was happy to represent Kazakhstan. “You believed in me. There’s no longer a question of how I feel. I’ve been on a journey as a Kazakh player for a long time.” Asked about the war, she said she wanted it “to be over as soon as possible”.
It quickly became clear that it would be a completely different game for Jabeur than in the semifinals against Maria, which had been characterized by finesse and many backspin duels on both sides. As usual, Rybakina relied on her powerful serve and powerful groundstrokes. In contrast to the impressive semi-final success against former winner Simona Halep of Romania, she showed nerves and struggled with her opponent’s slice. After a backhand error by the Kazakhs, Jabeur got the first break to make it 2-1 and jumped for joy.
Rybakina stayed close in a hard-fought game, but wasn’t able to put enough pressure on her opponent when Jabeur served. The Tunisian used her first set ball for the second break after just 32 minutes and the deserved 6:3.
Rybakina was initially unimpressed and took the service from her opponent for the first time with the first chance. Jabeur still had fun, headed a ball after the point, returning a lob running back through the legs. But rhythm, concentration and a little later the second set were gone.