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

A Russian player 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)

You can follow Elena Rybakina on Instagram

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 Russian. 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 performance at a Grand Slam?

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 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.

In 2021, the right-hander reached her first quarter-final at Roland Garros. She beat Serena Williams in the round of 16. Rybakina then reached the second Grand Slam final at the Australian Open in 2023, losing to Aryna Sabalenka 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the final.

How many titles has she won?

The Kazakh has won three WTA singles tournaments in her career to date. The first, in 2019, 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.

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 will break into the world’s top 10 for the first time when the rankings are updated on Jan 26, thanks to her run to the Australian Open final. She will be ranked No 10.

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, and is now 1.83m tall.

How much prize money has Elena Rybakina won?

Elena Rybakina has won about 6.3 million (about £5.2 million) in prize money since the beginning of her career, as of Jan 16, 2023.

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