Elena Rybakina won her first Grand Slam title with a three-set victory over Ons Jabeur in the 2022 Wimbledon women's final Saturday.
Elena Rybakina was considered surplus to requirements by the Russian tennis federation in 2018 but after she won Wimbledon representing Kazakhstan on Saturday they might be regretting allowing her to slip through the net.
The big-serving 23-year-old, who was born in Moscow and reportedly still lives there, could never have known when making the switch to Kazakhstan on financial grounds that Russian and Belarussian players would be banned from Wimbledon in 2022.
But the change of flag meant she was free to compete and she cashed in spectacularly to claim the women's title with an ice-cool comeback win against favorite Ons Jabeur and becoming the first player representing Kazakhstan to win a Grand slam title.
There was an almost apologetic air about Rybakina after becoming the youngest women's champion since 2011, a smile barely discernible as she walked to the net after converting her first match point for a 3-6 6-2 6-2 win.
She was more expressive later as she held the trophy aloft, making a point to thank the support of long-standing Kazakhstan Tennis Federation president Bulat Utemuratov, the billionaire who cheered her victory on Centre Court.
While cynics will suggest that her victory will give Russia some bragging rights, the poise with which she carried herself throughout the fortnight despite some probing questions about her origins was admirable.
Rybakina was wholesome in her praise of Tunisian trailblazer Jabeur, who she described as an inspiration, and thanked the Duchess of Cambridge after receiving the trophy from the British royal.