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Russian-born rising star claims Wimbledon glory with come-from-behind win in women’s final

Elena Rybakina has etched her name in the tennis history books as the first Kazakh to win Wimbledon with a three-set defeat of Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur in the final.

Elena Rybakina has etched her name in the tennis history books as the first Kazakh to win Wimbledon with a three-set defeat of Ons Jabeur in the final.

Rybakina rallied from a set down to deny Jabeur her own slice of history as the first African woman to claim the title with a 3-6 6-2 6-2 victory over the Tunisian world No.2 in Saturday’s showdown at the All England Club.

The 23-year-old Rybakina is also the youngest women’s Wimbledon champion since Petra Kvitova in 2011 after reducing Jabeur to a frustrated wreck during the one-hour, 48-minute title decider.

But the Moscow-born star’s triumph was not without controversy, as tennis great John McEnroe called her participation into question following the All England Club’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players because of Vladamir Putin’s war on Ukraine.

Rybakina declared her allegiance to Kazakhstan in June 2018, just after her 19th birthday, but is said to still have a home in Russia.

The world No.23 has tried to swat away questions about her defection throughout the championships, saying she doesn’t really have a base while travelling the globe playing tennis.

“She is obviously a huge hitter and hits the ball great,” McEnroe said from the BBC commentary booth.

“I just think it’s weird because of this whole thing. I don’t mean to get into politics here but she is Russian, right?

“It is sort of strange because of this whole ordeal of not allowing the Russians to play.”

Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan celebrates.

Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan celebrates with the trophy after winning Wimbledon. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

While Russian men’s world No.1 Daniil Medvedev was among those unable to compete, Rybakina marched through the women’s title for the concession of just two sets.

Rybakina also dropped the opening set in her quarter-final against Australian Ajla Tomljanovic.

But the 17th seed otherwise flattened her vanquished opponents – including grand slam champions Bianca Andreescu and 2019 Wimbledon winner Simona Halep – with her deadly serve and fearless back-court power game.

Jabeur had been bidding to become first African woman to win Wimbledon and first Arab to claim a grand slam singles title in the 55-year Open era.

But the 27-year-old was ultimately left to rue being only able to convert two of 11 break-point chances, looking hot and bothered in London’s SW19.


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