Elena Rybakina wins Wimbledon women's first Slam final

too nervous for waves, Elena Rybakina Stepped into the Center Court sun ahead of Saturday's Wimbledon final and kept a firm double grip on the black-and-red strap of the racket bag slung over her shoulder.

No waves. Not much of a look around. His game early on also beguiled some puzzlement, considering it was his debut in Grand Slam title play.

After nearly two hours of big swings and lots of sprinting, he won the championship at the All England Club with a 3–6, 6–2, 6–2 victory over Ons Jabeur – his first singles trophy at a major tournament. Kazakhstan is the adopted country.

Even then, Rybakina's response was muted as could be, a slight sigh, a hint of a smile.

“Glad it's over, to be honest,” the 23-year-old said, “because really, I've never felt anything like this.”

She was born in Moscow and has represented Kazakhstan since 2018, when that country offered her funding to support her tennis career. The switch was a talking point during Wimbledon, as it prevented all players representing Russia or Belarus from entering the tournament due to the war in Ukraine.

Since the WTA computer rankings began in 1975, only one woman ranked lower than No. 23 Rybakina has won Wimbledon — No. 31 Venus Williams in 2007, even though she was No. 1 and had already won three of her five career Wimbledon trophies. .

Ryabkina used her big serve and powerful forehand to end the 27-year-old Tunisian's 12-match winning streak, overcoming the varied style of No. 2 Jabeur. grass court

“You have an amazing game, and I don't think we have anyone on tour like that,” Rybakina told Jabeur during the post-match trophy ceremony, then added this one-liner: “I ran a lot today, so I didn't run. I remember No, I need to do more fitness, honestly.”

Jabeur was also appearing in his first Grand Slam final.

“He deserves it. Hopefully next time will be mine,” said Jabeur, whose exuberance on the court and persona off it have earned him the nickname “Minister of Happiness.”

“Elena stole my title,” jokes Jabeur, “but that's okay.”

In the third game of the match, Jabeur was reading Rybakina's serves and creating less inviting opportunities for baseline power. A squash-style forehand drew a forehand into the net to earn a break point, which saw Jabeur put a 120 mph serve in play to go 2-1 up and then see Rybakina backhand long.

Jabeur turned to his guest box, jumped and screamed.

Rybakina's miscues mount. A volley into the net tapes with the whole court wide open. Jabeur just netted a forehand after a brief comeback. When another forehand went awry, Jabeur broke to love to take the opening set, “Yalla!” shouted. — Arabic for “Let's go!” – and threw an uppercut as he headed to the sideline.

Jabeur was trying to become the first Arab or African woman to win a Slam singles title in the professional era, which was in 1968.

“I love this tournament so much. I'm really sorry. But this is tennis. There's only one winner,” Jabeur said. “I'm really happy that I'm trying to inspire many generations in my country. I hope they're listening.”

Rybakina, who defeated Serena Williams at last year's French Open, finally had her first break chance to open the second set and went 1-0 up when Jabeur missed a forehand. After saving four break points in her next two service games, Rybakina breaks again and soon leads 5-1.

Jabeur leads the women's tour with 13 wins in three-setters this season, but Rybakina has been much stronger in the decider.

He broke once more to start the third and went up 3-1.

Jabeur had to find a way to cut his mistakes and came close to turning the tide when he fell 3-2 in the third. She parried a pair of points, winning with a drop shot and Rybakina's service love-40.

But Rybakina erased that trio of break points and took the game, with a couple of 119 mph serves. The hold there made it 4-2, and Rybakina quickly broke again. Now he was just one game away from the biggest win of his career – and he had to serve for it.

That game started at 117 mph off Rybakina's red racket. It ended when Jabeur did not return.

Any apprehension, any discomfort felt by Rybakina can disappear. Soon she was stepping over the green wall next to the front row seats through the stands to hug her coach, her sister and others.

Now he was and always will be the Wimbledon champion.

Reporting by the Associated Press

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