Elena Rybakina wins Wimbledon, first Grand Slam title

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WIMBLEDON, England — Elena Rybakina defeated Ons Jabeur 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the Wimbledon final on Saturday to become the first tennis player from Kazakhstan to win a Grand Slam singles championship.

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Rybakina is a 23-year-old Moscow-born woman who has represented Kazakhstan since 2018, when the country offered her funding to support her tennis career. The change was a topic of conversation during Wimbledon as the All England Club banned all players who represent Russia or Belarus from entering the tournament due to the war in Ukraine.

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Rybakina is ranked No. 23. Since the start of the WTA computer rankings in 1975, only one woman ranked lower than Rybakina has won Wimbledon – Venus Williams in 2007 at No. 31, although she was No. 1 and has already won won three of his five careers. Wimbledon trophies.

It was the first women’s title match since 1962 Wimbledon between two players making their debut in a major final.

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Rybakina used his big serve and powerful forehand to overcome Jabeur’s mix of spins and slices at Center Court. Rybakina ended Jabeur’s 12-game winning streak, ranked No. 2, which was played entirely on grass pitches.

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Rybakina showed her best shots right away: a big serve – she leads the aces circuit in 2022 by a wide margin – and a flat forehand. There were glimpses of both in the opener, including a service winner at 119mph on the opening spot of the match.

It didn’t take long for Jabeur, the 27-year-old Tunisian, to adapt.

On Rybakina’s second service game, Jabeur was reading serves better and using his mark variety to create less attractive opportunities for base power. A squash-style forehand drew a forehand into the net to earn a break point, which Jabeur converted to lead 2-1 by fielding a 120mph serve and then watching Rybakina navigate a long backhand.

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Jabeur turned to his box, jumped and shouted.

Rybakina’s mistakes multiplied. A volley into the net with the whole court wide open. A forehand scored after Jabeur barely got a short return. When another forehand went wrong, Jabeur broke at love to take the first set and threw an uppercut as she headed for the sideline.

It wouldn’t be a runaway victory, though. Rybakina stabilized and her serve became more efficient. Jabeur began to struggle to use all of his creativity.

As Jabeur’s forehand became increasingly problematic, Rybakina got his serve and groundstrokes in the second and third sets.

Rybakina, who beat Serena Williams at Roland Garros last year, finally got her first break chance to start the second set and took a 1-0 lead when Jabeur missed a forehand. After saving four break points in his next two service games, Rybakina broke again and quickly led 5-1.

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Jabeur leads the women’s circuit with 13 straight-set wins this season, but it’s Rybakina who has come out much stronger this time around. She broke once more to start the third and took a 3-1 lead.

Jabeur needed to find a way to reduce his mistakes; on the forehand side alone, she lost 15 points – 10 via forced errors, five via unforced errors.

Jabeur seemed to give himself the chance to really turn things around while losing 3-2 in the third. She leveraged a pair of points she earned via a bunt and a love-40 lob on Rybakina’s serve.

But Rybakina erased that trio of break points and won the match, aided by a few serves at 119 mph. That hold made it 4-2, and Rybakina quickly broke again. Now she was just one game away from the biggest win of her career – and she had to serve for it.

When a final serve drew a missed return from Jabeur’s racquet, Rybakina appeared to sigh, before bursting into a small smile.

Shortly after, she scaled the front row wall to roam the stands for celebratory hugs with her team.

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