controversy | 

Russian-born Wimbledon winner is crowned after huge fines handed out for controversial ban

All England Club and LTA set to appeal fines after WTA punishment

Elena Rybakina celebrates with the The Venus Rosewater Dish following victory over Ons Jabeur in The Final of the Ladies' Singles on day thirteen of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Picture date: Saturday July 9, 2022.© PA

Tracy WingSunday World

Russia-born Elena Rybakina became Kazakhstan’s maiden grand slam champion after defeating Ons Jabeur to claim the Wimbledon title, in what was an uncomfortable moment for All England Club chiefs.

In the first women’s singles final at Wimbledon between two new slam finalists for 60 years, the 23-year-old came from a set down to claim a 3-6 6-2 6-2 victory.

When Wimbledon organisers decided to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes following the invasion of Ukraine, it was partly to avoid the propaganda opportunities should British royalty end up presenting a player from one of those two countries with the trophy.

So it was more than a little embarrassing, therefore, that the Duchess of Cambridge did indeed give the Venus Rosewater Dish to a player born, raised and reportedly still a resident in Russia, but who switched to representing Kazakhstan for financial reasons four years ago.

Russian media have been celebrating Rybakina’s success and the outcome shows the difficulty of implementing such a policy in an individual and very international sport.

All this comes in a week when it was revealed the WTA, the govering body of women's tennis, fined Wimbledon $250,000, while also fining the LTA the governing body of UK tennis, $750,000.

The LTA ran the tournaments ahead of Wimbledon at Nottingham, Birmingham and Eastbourne, where Russian and Belarusian players were also banned.

Now Wimbledon chiefs have confirmed they will appeal against the fines, with tennis responding in a very different way to other sports as they react to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Whole many sports have banned Russian and Belarusian players, Wimbledon and the LTA have been punished, with some suggesting that stance has given a boost to Russia's ongoing brutality in Ukraine.

Elena Rybakina is presented with the The Venus Rosewater Dish by The Duchess of Cambridge following victory over Ons Jabeur in The Final of the Ladies' Singles on day thirteen of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Picture date: Saturday July 9, 2022.© PA

Rybakina avoided any political statements after the match, as her muted celebrations were backed up by these comments from a player who clearly shies away from publicity.

"I was super nervous before the match, during the match and I'm happy it's finished to be honest. Really I have never felt something like this. I want to thank the crowd for the support, it was unbelievable these two weeks.

"But also I want to congratulate Ons for a great match and everything you have achieved. I think you are an inspiration for everybody. You have an amazing game. We don't have someone like this on tour and it is a joy to play against you. I ran so much, I don't think I need to do fitness anymore.

"Thank you so much. It is just an unbelievable atmosphere. Thank you.

"It's true I did not expect to be in the second week of a Grand Slam at Wimbledon. To be a winner is just amazing. I don't have the words to say how happy I am.”

She then went on to thank her parents back home in Moscow as she added: "I wouldn't be here without my team of course, so I want to say a big thanks to them. I want to say thanks to my coach, my sponsors, everyone. The most important is my parents of course, they are not here so I am very sorry. My sister is here and it is just the third time she comes to watch so I'm happy she is here. Without my parents I wouldn't be here for sure. Thank you so much everyone."

This was not the result Wimbledon or LTA chiefs wanted, with the Russian media certain to celebrate Rybakina's win as if it were for one of their own players.


Today's Headlines

More Sport

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos