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Rybakina criticises Tour: “I don’t feel like a Wimbledon champion”

The Kazakh says the lack of points from Wimbledon and the fact that she had to play on outside courts at various events has taken away some of the gloss after winning her first slam

Elena Rybakina Wimbledon 2022 Elena Rybakina celebrates winning her semi final match against Simona Halep || AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Winning Wimbledon ought to be the ultimate prize for any player, with all the trappings that success at the very top level brings.

But for Elena Rybakina, who stunned the field in July to win her first Grand Slam tournament, though winning Wimbledon was “a great achievement,” she has struggled to enjoy it, partly because Wimbledon did not offer any ranking points this year and partly because she feels under-appreciated, seemingly for a variety of reasons.

“I would say it was great achievement for me,” she told reporters at the US Open on Friday. “I’m super proud of my team, of course. (But) experience-wise, I would say it was not the greatest.”

“I think this is the problem of the structure of the tour. Honestly, a bit weak leadership because we have so many things going on. It was my dream to win Wimbledon. It’s pity. I feel like actually I’m not the Wimbledon champion. It takes time to realise, but when you’re going from tournament to tournament, this is how you feel in the end of the day.”

In a normal year, Rybakina would have been No 2 in the WTA Race following her Wimbledon win, with the 2000 points for a champion sending her up the rankings into the top 10. But after Wimbledon banned Russian and Belarusian players over the invasion of Ukraine, and the subsequent removal of ranking points by the WTA, Rybakina, who was born in Russia and switched allegiance to Kazakhstan in 2018, missed out. She still lives in Moscow.

Rybakina: “The points situation is not fair”

Instead, she goes into the US Open ranked No 25, still smarting from not being put on a show court enough in the tournaments since her Wimbledon win.

“It’s everything,” she said. “It’s points situation. I don’t think that it’s fair. Of course, we cannot change it. It was a decision before…(but) knowing that as of today I (would) be No 2 on the Race…I don’t think it’s fair. I’m talking not only about myself, but just generally I think with all the decisions, many players are paying for all these decisions.

“You can be No 1 and everything is great, but in the end of the day you’re just forgetting where you’re coming from and how tough it is actually to get to where you are. I didn’t get this feeling to be No 2, because it’s still different treatment when you are top 10 or top 20. Even with the win of Wimbledon, it’s kind of different feeling.

“It’s not the same as to be No 5 or 4. I would say if you go to play a tournament. Me, as a Wimbledon champion, have to feel like, yes, now attention is on me, and I’m playing good. It was good. For example, in one tournament I go and play against the greatest champion, Muguruza, and we play on Court No 4. This is kind of like question for me. I don’t think that this is fair.”

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