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Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina wins Wimbledon women’s final for 1st tennis slam

Published:Saturday | July 9, 2022 | 3:41 PM
Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina kisses the trophy as she celebrates after beating Tunisia's Ons Jabeur to win the final of the women's singles on day thirteen of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Saturday, July 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — As “unexpectable” and “unbelievable” as Elena Rybakina found her Wimbledon championship to be and as “super happy” as she was about winning a Grand Slam title at age 23 and ranked 23rd, her immediate reaction to grabbing the last point of the final Saturday was as muted as possible.

She exhaled. She walked to the net to shake the hand of her opponent, No. 2-ranked Ons Jabeur. She allowed herself only the slightest of smiles as she looked up to glance at the excitement in the Centre Court guest box. No screams of joy. No jumps in the air. No collapse onto the grass.

“I need to teach her,” the effusive Jabeur noted later, “how to celebrate really good.”

It was not until more than two hours after the conclusion of her 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory over the No. 2-ranked Jabeur that Rybakina was overcome by the significance of it all, including earning the first singles trophy at a major tournament for her adopted country of Kazakhstan.

That moment of realization came when, during a news conference filled with questions about her lack of outward expression on court, a reporter asked what Rybakina thought her parents' reaction would be to this triumph. They were not on hand Saturday; she had not spoken to them yet.

“Probably,” she said, her eyes welling with tears, her face reddening, her hand placed over her mouth, “they're going to be super proud.”

And then, after a pause, Rybakina joked: “You wanted to see emotion!”

This was the first Wimbledon women's final since 1962 between a pair of players both making a debut in a Grand Slam title match, and Rybakina acknowledged being nervous at the start. When she stepped into the sunshine filling the 100-year-old stadium, she did not wave to the spectators, the way Jabeur did. Instead, Rybakina kept a firm double-grip on the black-and-red straps of the racket bag slung over her shoulders.

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