She is 23 years old and has just marked the history of Kazakhstan. Still little known to the general public, the player of Russian origin, naturalized kAzakhstan, won her first major title on the grass of Wimbledon, Saturday, July 9. Thanks in particular to its powerful serve, Elena Rybakina defeated in three sets (3-6, 6-2, 6-2) Tunisian Ons Jabeur (world No. 2). For the occasion, franceinfo:sport presents four things to know about the new queen of the London lawn.
Born in Moscow, naturalized Kazakh in 2018
With her coronation at Wimbledon, Elena Rybakina made her adopted country, Kazakhstan, shine like never before on a tennis court. However, the champion was born 23 years ago in Moscow. After starting tennis in clubs in the Russian capital and being trained by one of the pioneers of the discipline in the USSR, Andrey Chesnokov, she wanted to pursue her career outside the borders of her native country. “My father looked carefully at the offers from American universities that I received. But I didn’t want to go“, admits the right-hander questioned by the internal media of Wimbledon (article in English).
As she began to make a name for herself on the circuit, she opted for Kazakh nationality in 2018, not insensitive to the financial support of the very wealthy local federation chaired for a long time by businessman Bulat Utemouratov, whose personal fortune is estimated at 3.5 billion dollars according to Forbes magazine.
23 years. Champion of Wibledon.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 9, 2022
“I have been playing for Kazakhstan for a long time. I’m really happy to represent this country“, she declared in a press conference after her success in the semi-final against Simona Halep. While she is said to live in Moscow, she recalled that she was training in Slovakia and Dubai when the WTA circuit is taking a break. The president of the Kazakh tennis federation was also in the stands to applaud the coronation of his player. Proof of a good understanding between the champion and his president, he was one of the first people whom Rybakina thanked during his post-match interview, just after receiving his trophy.
Best waitress on the circuit
On the London turf, the Kazakhstani shone with her ability to unleash powerful and precise serves. In difficulty in the first set of his final against Ons Jabeur, it was precisely the fact of chaining the good face-offs in the second set that tipped the match. Earlier in the tournament, in the semi-final against Simona Halep, she passed five aces to the former defending champion, including one that was flashed at 195 km / h. She will hit even harder in the final, hitting a serve at 196 km/h, for four service winners.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 9, 2022
Over the entire 2022 edition of Wimbledon, the player has scored more aces than any other participant (53 in total). A record that must nevertheless be put into perspective. She remains very far from the 102 aces struck by Serena Williams in 2012 in London. Today, Elena Rybakina can still claim to be the best waitress on the circuit. According to the WTA website, she would have scored 168 aces this year, ahead of the Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova (160) and the French Caroline Garcia (154).
His trainer, the former Croatian tennis player Stefano Vukov, is aware that the game of his protege must still evolve so as not to depend solely on his services. “She has so much potential… She is still rough in many areas and we have a long process ahead of us.“, commented his coach to the BBC.
Already among the best youngsters in the world
With her victory at Wimbledon, Rybakina, who occupies the 23rd place in the world ranking, has made an appointment for the future in the eyes of the whole world. But the 1m84 player was already known to the most assiduous fans of the little yellow ball. The young Elena had her first successes in the juniors in 2017, at 17 years old. That year, she notably reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open and Roland-Garros.
She won her best title at the Trofeo Bonfiglio (a prestigious junior tournament held in Italy), in Milan, against the Polish Iga Swiatek, today world number 1. The Kazakhstani will end the 2017 season in third place in the world junior rankings, before joining the professional circuit.
First Kazakhstani to win a major tournament
The Kazakhstani won three singles tournaments during her young career. The first, in 2019, at the Bucharest Open. Then aged 20, it only took her an hour and five minutes to dominate Patricia Maria Tig in the final (6-2, 6-0). She then won her second title of 2020, at the Hobart Open in Australia. Its upward trajectory had been brutally interrupted by months marked by the health crisis, injuries and health glitches. In Grand Slam, Rybakina had never passed the quarter-final stage (at Roland-Garros in 2021).
On July 9, 2022, Elena Rybakina won her third Wimbledon title, by far the most prestigious. No other person of Kazakh nationality, men and women alike, had not succeeded to win a Grand Slam title. She was notably congratulated by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the country’s president. A few minutes after the match point, the latter hastened to tweet: “Kazakh tennis player Elena Rybakina has achieved a historic victory in the most prestigious tournament of Wimbledon. I sincerely congratulate our athlete!“
Kazakh tennis player Elena Rybakina has achieved a historic victory in the most prestigious tournament of Wimbledon. I sincerely congratulate our athlete!
— Qasym-Jomart Tokayev (@TokayevKZ) July 9, 2022
The only shadow on the board, the victory will not bring any points to Rybakina since the WTA has decided not to award any this year, to sanction the London tournament for having taken the decision to exclude Russian and Belarusian players from the table. .