Should Elena Rybakina’s Russian Roots Overshadow Her Wimbledon Win? - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Latest news

Should Elena Rybakina’s Russian Roots Overshadow Her Wimbledon Win?

Her parents still live in Russia and for the first 18 years of her life, she played for that country.



Image via

Winning your first Grand Slam title should always be a day of celebration for a player but some have branded Elena Rybakina’s triumph at Wimbledon as a farce. 


The 23-year-old valiantly battled back from a set down to defeat Ons Jabeur in the final at SW19 to become the youngest female champion since 2011. Rybakina’s breakthrough on the grass is unprecedented. Until this tournament, she had only ever beaten one top 20 player on the surface and reached the quarter-final once at a major in 11 attempts. 

Whilst Rybakina’s triumph is being praised by many, there is also criticism from some. As for the reason why it is due to her nationality. She was born in Russia and lived in the country for 18 years until switching allegiance to Kazakhstan after the Russian Tennis Federation decided to no longer support her.

Russian and Belarussian players are banned from Wimbledon this year in response to the war in Ukraine. The decision was met with outrage from within the tennis community and resulted in the removal of ranking points from this year’s tournament. 

“I’ve been playing for Kazakhstan for a very, very long time. I represent them in the biggest tournaments, the Olympics, which was a dream come true,” she replied when asked if Russia could use her win as propaganda.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen. I mean, it’s always some news, but I cannot do anything about this.”

To criticize Rybakina in relation to the ban is unfair and also illogical. She switched nationality nearly four years before February 24th, 2022, the date when Russia started its military campaign against Ukraine. If she had changed her nationality after that date, perhaps it would have been a very different debate. Furthermore, the suggestion that somebody with Russian roots winning Wimbledon is a farce is a bit misguided. If you take a closer look Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Denis Shapovalov all have a bit of Russian blood in them.  

However, Rybakina was caught off guard during her press conference when asked if she condemned the war in Ukraine. After answering roughly 15 questions from journalists about a variety of topics, she didn’t say she had any issues with the English language until she was asked about the war which she ended up not giving a direct response about.

“My English is not the greatest. I didn’t understand the second part of the question. From my side I can only say that I’m representing Kazakhstan,” she said. “I didn’t choose where I was born. People believed in me. Kazakhstan supported me so much. Even today I heard so much support. I saw the flags. So I don’t know how to answer these questions.”

The exact question asked was ‘Wimbledon banned Russian players this year partly because of the worry about propaganda from Vladimir Putin. Obviously, you’re from Kazakhstan, but you were born there and grew up in Russia. Do you condemn the war and Putin’s actions?

One reason why the tennis player sidestepped the question is due to her family living in Russia where it is possible for people to be punished for speaking out against the war. Earlier this week a Moscow district council member, Alexei Gorinov, was sentenced to seven years in prison for making anti-war comments in what is thought to be the harshest penalty issued yet by authorities.

After Rybakina’s win, there was a swift reaction from the country of her birth. Speaking to Sport Express, Deputy of the Russian State Duma, Svetlana Zhurova, took a jibe at the Wimbledon ban. Zhurova, who is a former Olympic champion in speed skating, is one of the many officials to have been sanctioned by the west. 

“In such a situation, thank God that they didn’t ban everyone who has Russian roots or something to do with Russia,” she commented. “We are always very rooting for everyone who was once in the USSR. When for some reason we don’t perform, we start rooting for Kazakhstan, Belarus and others. We have a connection. Elena’s victory once again proves the level of our tennis school.”

Shamil Tarpischev, who is the president of the Russian Tennis Federation, indicated that the reason why Rybakina stopped playing for his country was linked to financial reasons. But now she is a Grand Slam champion, is he tempted to entice her back?

“She moved to Kazakhstan because they offered better conditions there than we could give. Unfortunately, the question was, it seems to me, more financial,” he said.
“Will we try to return (get Rybakina to switch back)? We are not people who lure players away.”

Meanwhile, Elena Vesnina is quoted by Championat news as describing Rybakina’s win as also a victory for her homeland.

“I am very happy for Rybakina! Congratulations to Lena, her team and parents on the victory. Of course, Rybakina and Jabeur both deserved to win the trophy, they went a great way to the final. For us, her victory is something incredible!” She said. 

According to Russian media, Rybakina is the first Moscow-born player to have won the Wimbledon singles title. 

Latest news

Flavio Cobolli beats Dominic Stricker on his debut at the Next Gen Finals



Flavio Cobolli overcame 2022 semifinalist Dominic Stricker 4-2 3-4 (4-7) 4-1 4-2 after 1 hour and 39 minutes on his debut at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah to move to 1-0 in Green Group. 


Cobolli converted four of his five break points and won nine of his ten games on the deciding point.

Sticker earned the first break point in the second game of the opening set, but Cobolli saved it with a forehand inside-out on the deciding point. Cobolli fended off another break point on the deciding point with a first serve winner in the fourth game. The Italian player broke serve in the fifth game on the deciding point with a forehand passing shot to take a 3-2 lead and served out the first set at 15. 

The second set went on serve in the first three games with no break points. Stricker earned a break point in the fourth game, but Cobolli saved it to hold serve for 2-2. Stricker went up a 4-1 lead in the tie-break with a mini-break on the second point, but Cobolli pulled the mini-break back to draw level to 5-5. Cobolli saved two set points at 5-6 with a forehand down the line and another chance at 6-7. Stricker converted his third set point to win the tie-break 9-7 after 56 minutes.

Cobolli went down 0-40 on serve in the first game of the third set, but he won four consecutive points to save four break points to hold serve on the deciding point. The Italian player won 11 of the next 12 points and broke serve in the second game to open up a 2-0 lead. Stricker rallied from 0-40 down to 40-40, but Cobolli held serve on the deciding point with a forehand in the third game. Stricker earned three break points at 1-3 15-40 but Cobolli saved them to hold serve on the deciding point for 4-1.   

The fourth set started with a series of breaks and counterbreaks, as Cobolli took a 2-1 lead with a break on the deciding point and held serve at 30 to open up a 3-1 lead. Cobolli earned a match point, but Stricker saved it on the deciding point. Cobolli served out the win on his second match point in the sixth game.

Cobolli will face Arthur Fils in the second match on Wednesday.

“I warmed up for a lot of time, so I was really hot on the court. I started the match really well. The courts are so fast, but I was faster than Stricker. I played a really good match and I am really happy”, said Cobolli.

Continue Reading

Latest news

Arthur Fils edges Luca Nardi in the opening match of the Next Gen Finals in Jeddah



Arthur Fils made a winning start to Green Group with a 2-4 4-3 (8-6) 4-2 1-4 4-2 win of Luca Nardi after 2 hours and 2 minutes in the opening match of the 2023 Next Gen ATP Finals at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.


Fils served at 51% and faced only two break points. 

Both players went on serve in the first four games. Nardi earned his first break at 15 in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead, when Fils netted a forehand. Nardi served for the set at 3-2 and fired a service winner to close out the first set in 19 minutes. 

Both players went on serve in the second set en route to the tie-break. Nardi fired an ace on the sixth point to draw level to 3-3. Fils earned a mini-break  after Nardi made a loose backhand. Nardi pulled the mini-break back to draw level to 4-4 and forced a mistake from Fils to earn a set point at 5-5. 

Fils saved a set point at 5-6 with a service winner. The Frenchman earned a mini-break at 7-6 to wrap up the tie-break of the second set 8-6 after 55 minutes. 

Fils broke serve at 15 in the first game of the third set after a lucky net cord winner and earned another break point at 2-0. Nardi won the decisive point with a forehand down the line winner to hold serve in the third game. Fils held serve at 30 in the sixth game to win the third set 4-2 after 1 hour and 18 minutes. 

Nardi faced two break points in the first game of the fourth set and saved them on the deciding point. 

Nardi broke Fils in the fifth game when Fils made a forehand error. The Italian player closed out the fourth set with a service winner in the sixth game forcing the match to the fifth set after 1 hour and 38 minutes. 

Both players went on serve in the opening five games of the decider. Nardi wasted a game point, and Fils earned the decisive break with a return winner to seal the win after 2 hours and 3 minutes. 

Fils won the first ATP title in Lyon last May and finished the season at number 36. The Frenchman started 2023 at number 249, making the biggest jump into the top 50 from last yeat of any player on Tour. 

“It was a tough match. The first set in my life I am playing first to four games. Things can change very quickly. I was leading two sets to one, had break points and I was feeling very good. Then I lost a deuce point and everything changed, but I I am really happy to win today”, said Fils. 

Continue Reading

Latest news

Grand Slam Champions Sabalenka, Rybakina To Start 2024 Campaigns In Brisbane



Photo by Ubitennis

Aryna Sabalenka will begin her preparation for a second consecutive Australian Open title by playing a warm-up event in Brisbane during the first week of January.


The world No.2 is among a trio of players that has been added to the line-up for the combined event with the women’s draw being increased from 32 to 48 players. It will be the first time in Sabalenka’s career that she has played in Brisbane after the tournament wasn’t held between 2021-2023. 

“I’m excited about starting my 2024 Australian season in Brisbane. Australia holds a special place in my heart after winning my first Grand Slam there,” Sabalenka said in a press release.
“I can’t wait to make my debut at the Brisbane International and play in front of the Queensland tennis fans. It’s a tournament that’s attracted so many good players in the past and I’m hoping it will set me up for another successful summer.”

Sabalenka will be hoping to continue her run of good form from 2023 into the new season. This year she won her maiden Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park, was runer-up to Coco Gauff at the US Open and reached the semi-finals at the two other major events. She also won the Madrid Open in May which is the biggest clay-court title of her career to date. 

Also joining the Belarussian in the draw is former Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina. The world No.4 was runner-up to Sabalenka at the Australian Open earlier this year. She has won five WTA titles so far in her career with two of those occurring this year in Indian Wells and Rome. 

As for the men’s draw, which is categorized as an ATP 250 event, Ben Shelton has confirmed his entry. The 21-year-old played his first-ever international event back in January and since the start of the year, he has risen almost 80 places in the rankings to 17th in the world. His career-best ranking is 15th which was achieved last month. 

“I’m thrilled to be playing the Brisbane International for the first time in 2024. My first trip to Australia was last January, and it was such an amazing experience. The fans were so welcoming,” said Shelton.
“I’m looking forward to exploring Brisbane and playing in front of the local fans. Hopefully, there will also be a chance to fit in some sightseeing during my visit.”

The Brisbane International has already confirmed that Naomi Osaka will also be playing in what will be her first tournament since becoming a mother. Andy Murray, Victoria Azarenka, Holger Rune and Grigor Dimitrov are also set to play at the Queensland Tennis Centre.

The tournament will take place from 31 December to 7 January. 

Continue Reading