Elena Rybakina gave a small, contained fistpump on the final point of her match on Saturday against Ons Jabeur. The reaction was fitting for an opening round match, or even winning a set during a match.
However, it was the biggest final point of her young career, as the 17th seed representing Kazakhstan had just won the Wimbledon title, completing a 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 over the third-seeded Jabeur.
“I didn’t know what to do,” she told reporters afterwards. “It was shocking. I don’t know, maybe because I believe that I can do it deep inside. But [at the] same time it’s like, too many emotions. I was just trying to keep myself calm. But I don’t know.”
She added, jokingly:
“Maybe one day you will see [a] huge reaction from me, but unfortunately not today.”
The big-hitting Rybakina came out slugging in the first set, but it resulted in 17 unforced errors, and Jabeur was dominant on serve, as the higher seed claimed the opening set.
Rybakina began serving better in the second set, and turned on her hustle to chase down the array of drop shots Jabeur was throwing out there. She broke to open up the set, and after saving break points to obtain a 3-1 lead, Rybakina would go on to take the second set and force the decider.
In the third set, Rybakina once again broke early and had to save break points later in the set. She did just that, displaying the toughness to hold off any surge from Jabeur. After securing another break point for 5-2, she served out the match to claim the Wimbledon title.
“I can’t believe it still. Maybe one day, in a few days, I sit down and I realize what I did,” said Rybakina. “But for now I’m super proud of myself, and of course of my team and everybody who worked with me. It’s been tough, but I think we made it all together.”
Rybakina is the first player representing Kazakhstan to win a major title. The Russia-born Rybakina began competing under the Kazakhstan flag in 2018 in order to have access to tennis resources that were not available to her from the Russian Tennis Federation.
Rybakina is still just 23-years-old, and is excited for what is to come in her tennis future.
“Maybe I proved that not always you have to have a great team from the young age, because I didn’t till I was 17 or 18. So I think this is the most important thing, that everybody, no matter their financial situation, no matter who they are, they can play and achieve many great results,” she said. “And to myself, that I can actually win a Grand Slam…and maybe I can win more Gran Slams. Who knows? But for sure that’s the goal, and that’s what I’m going to work for.”