Wimbledon, Russia, Kazakhstan, serve – Everything you always wanted to know about Elena Rybakina (but never had time to find out) – updated after Doha 2024

A Russian who became a naturalised Kazakh in 2018, Elena Rybakina won the first Grand Slam of her career at Wimbledon in 2022. Here’s everything you need to know about her

Elena Rybakina Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina celebrates winning her semi final match against Romania’s Simona Halep (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

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Who is Elena Rybakina?

Elena Rybakina is a world-class tennis player, and the 2022 Wimbledon champion. She is aiming to become world No 1, as she told Tennis Majors in 2020. Her game is characterised by great power, which is also evident on the serve, particularly because of her height (1.83m).

That is the part of her game she feels is her biggest asset at the moment, telling reporters in SW19: “The key, of course, is my serve, aggressive game…I just try to do my best, focus on things which I can control: my serve, my shots, emotions.”

Rybakina was born on 17 June 1999 in Moscow, Russia. She still lives in the Russian capital.

Is Elena Rybakina Russian?

Rybakina was born in Russia. However, she became a naturalised Kazakh in July 2018, although she still lives in Moscow. Rybakina was therefore able to participate in the 2022 edition of Wimbledon. Russian and Belarussian players were banned from the tournament because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. She answered, “Tough question” when asked if she felt Russian or Kazakh. Her naturalisation was the result of sporting and financial support from Kazakhstan when she turned professional.

When asked after the Wimbledon final for her opinions on the war, she replied that her English was not good enough to speak about the issue.

“From my side I can only say that I’m representing Kazakhstan,” she added. “I didn’t choose where I was born. People believed in me. Kazakhstan supported me so much. Even today I heard so many support. I saw the flags. So I don’t know how to answer these questions.”

What is Elena Rybakina’s best GRAND SLAM performance?

Rybakina’s best Grand Slam performance is her run to the Wimbledon title in 2022. She became the first Kazakh player to reach the semi-final of a Major on this edition. The then 23-year-old beat Bianca Andreescu in the second round in two sets. In the quarter-finals, Rybakina eliminated Ajla Tomljanovic in three sets, before knocking out Simona Halep in the semi-final. She beat Ons Jabeur 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the final.

Rybakina also reached the 2023 Australian Open final. She lost TO Aryna Sabalenka 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

In 2021, the right-hander reached her first quarter-final at Roland Garros. She beat Serena Williams in the round of 16.

Ryabkina’s most recent Grand Slam result was a disappointing second-round exit at the 2024 Australian Open when she was upset 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (20) by Blinkova. It was an extraordinary match that saw a new record set for the longest ever women’s singles tiebreak at a Grand Slam.

How many titles has she won?

The Kazakh has seven WTA singles tournaments in her career to date. The first, in 2019, came at the Bucharest Open. Then aged 20, she needed just one hour and five minutes to dominate Patricia Maria Tig in the final (6-2, 6-0). She went on to win the second title of her career in 2020 at the Hobart Open in Australia – and the third title came at Wimbledon.

Her fourth title came at Indian Wells in March 2023, followed by another WTA 1000 event, the Italian Open, in May 2023. She then won the Brisbane International in January 2024, when she beat Sabalenka for the title, followed by the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open in February 2024, defeating Daria Kasatkina 6-1, 6-4.

What did Elena Rybakina accomplish in Rome in 2023?

Rybakina won the 2023 Italian Open in Rome beating Anhelina Kalinina (6-4, 1-0 retd.) to win the biggest clay court tile of her career.

By reaching the final in Rome, the Kazakh making her only the third player in the Open Era (after Monica Seles in 1991 and Maria Sharapova in 2012) to reach the final of the Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami and Rome in the same season.

What did Elena Rybakina accomplish during the 2023 Sunshine Double?

Rybakina triumphed in Indian Wells and came within one win of completing the famous “Sunshine Double.” However, she lost in the Miami final to Petra Kvitova.

The Kazakh would have joined Iga Swiatek, Victoria Azarenka, Kim Clijsters and Steffi Graf as Sunshine Double winners.

When did Elena Rybakina start playing tennis?

Rybakina started playing tennis at the age of six, following her parents. Later, at the age of 15, the then-Russian player played her first match on the ITF circuit, in 2014, in Turkey. She turned professional in 2017, when she played her first WTA tournament in Moscow. She made her name when she defeated world No 7 Caroline Garcia in the second round of the St. Petersburg tournament in 2018. She then played her first Grand Slam at the age of 20 at Roland Garros, where she lost in the first round.

Elena Rybakina, Roland-Garros
Elena Rybakina played the match of her life against Serena Williams in 2021 (Panoramic)

Who is her coach?

Rybakina’s coach is Stefano Vukov. The Croatian was ranked 1122nd on the ATP in 2007. It was with him that the Kazakh player won her first WTA Tour title in 2019.

How tall is Elena Rybakina?

The right-hander is 1.83m tall, according to her profile on the official WTA website. She says 1.84m when she talks to the media. Her weight is not listed.

What is her best WTA ranking?

Elena Rybakina broke into the world’s top 10 for the first time when the rankings were updated on Jan 26, 2023 thanks to her run to the Australian Open final. Her best ranking is No 3, first reached in June 2023.

Why did Rybakina quit gymnastics?

When she started playing tennis, the Kazakh also practised gymnastics, and skating, with her sister. But the Kazakh grew up – too much and too tall. She then devoted herself entirely to tennis.

How much prize money has Elena Rybakina won?

Elena Rybakina has won more than $12.36 million in prize money since the beginning of her career, as of February 17, 2024.

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