Rybakina in tears over Russia after denying Jabeur her Arab-African moment; Djokovic and Kyrgios patch up ahead of their final
LONDON (AFP, REUTERS) - Newly crowned Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina broke down in tears on Saturday (July 9) after she was again confronted by questions over her Russian roots.
Rybakina, born in Moscow but representing Kazakhstan since 2018, came back from one set down to defeat Tunisia's Ons Jabeur in the women's final.
Had Jabeur won, it would have been a historic first Grand Slam title for an Arab-African, and indeed for an Arab or African.
But it was her opponent's nationality that was more in the limelight. Rybakina's triumph came in a tournament where Russian players were banned, following their country's invasion of Ukraine.
"I don't know what's going to happen. It's always some news, but I cannot do anything about this," said the 23-year-old when asked if the Russian government would be tempted to politicise her Grand Slam triumph.
"I'm playing for Kazakhstan a very long time. I represent them on the biggest tournaments, Olympics, which was a dream come true."
Russian tennis chief Shamil Tarpischev, however, hailed Rybakina's victory as a triumph for Russia, describing the player as "our product".
"It's very nice! Well done Rybakina! We win the Wimbledon tournament," Tarpischev was quoted as saying by Russian news agency, Ria Novosti.
Rybakina's parents live in Moscow. She has been reluctant throughout the tournament to elaborate on how much time she spends in the country.
When she was pressed further on Saturday and invited to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin and the invasion, Rybakina pleaded for understanding.
"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."