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Elena Rybakina’s victory puts Kazakhstan on map of world tennis

Rybakina went into the final as the underdog and many people expected it to be Jabeur to be the history-maker. The first Arab player to make a grand slam singles final and the first African to reach a singles final in the Open era, Jabeur led by a set but could not maintain her level in the face of a barrage of pure hitting and outstanding resilience from the 23-year-old, who is the youngest winner of the title since Petra Kvitova in 2011.

Elena Rybakina came through in three sets.
Elena Rybakina storms back to beat Ons Jabeur in big-hitting Wimbledon final
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At the end, when she offered no celebration and just puffed out her cheeks instead, the enormity of her achievements hardly seemed to register. Never one to celebrate a match win, it was only a few minutes later when she walked up into the stands to greet her team that she allowed herself to smile.

Born in Moscow to Russian parents, Rybakina switched allegiance to Kazakhstan in 2018. She has played Fed Cup for them and represented her country at the Olympics. When she eventually gets back to Kazakhstan, if she was not already famous, with the Wimbledon trophy in her bag, she undoubtedly will be now.

“For sure,” her coach, Stefano Vukov, said. “Hopefully not only in Kazakhstan but all over the world. I mean she showed what she can do. And hopefully all around the world people are going to start recognising her.”

Any worries from the All England Club that Rybakina may be booed thanks to her Russian roots – after it banned Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s event – were soon forgotten as the world No 23 crunched winners into all corners, with the crowd responding warmly. Vukov said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine affected everyone but that Rybakina had not felt any extra pressure as a result of being asked about throughout the tournament.

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