Wimbledon 2022: Elena Rybakina fights to beat Ons Jabeur for her first Grand Slam title
History was in play on center court at Wimbledon and it was Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina who won against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, winning her first Grand Slam title. Jabeur was the first Arab woman and first African-born player to reach a Grand Slam final, while Russian-born Rybakina is the first player representing Kazakhstan to win a Grand Slam after switching to represent that country in 2018.
Rybakina is also the first woman to win Wimbledon after losing the first set (3-6, 6-2, 6-2) since Amélie Mauresmo came back from a set down to beat Justine Henin in the 2006 women’s final. Additionally, ranked No. 23 in the world, Rybakina is the lowest-ranked woman to win Wimbledon since Venus Williams won the All England Club for the fourth time as the No. 31 player in the world.
The story of the match was the huge momentum after the first set. Jabeur controlled the first set with confidence and her drop shots, forcing Rybakina to come to the net, where she looked uncomfortable at first. Jabeur’s movement, coupled with her precision near the net, led her to a 6-3 victory in the first set. Rybakina also had to shake his nerves early on, scoring less than 50% on his first serves in the first set.
The massive turnaround hinged on two things – Rybakina won 70% of her first serve points for the remainder of the game, and she ultimately won 17 of 36 points at net. Although it wasn’t a large percentage, she had been looking for answers for Jabeur to come to the net to steal and hit bunts.
“I was super nervous before the game, during the game, and I’m honestly glad it’s over because…I’ve never felt anything like this,” Rybakina said after receiving the Venus Rosewater Dish on the center court. The 23-year-old is the sixth different player to win the women’s singles at Wimbledon in the last six tournaments and the youngest winner since Petra Kvitova won in 2011 when she was 21.
Those nerves were all gone after Rybakina was broken in love to end the first set. She was the sharpest player as her first-serve percentage increased. His four aces came after the first set.
Jabeur’s historic run ended as Rybakina stabilized – the champions finished with 29 winners in the game and converted 4 of 6 break chances – but Jabeur was very aware of what his presence in the final meant after the game.
“I love this tournament so much and I feel really sad, but that’s tennis… there is only one winner. I’m really happy to try to inspire many generations of my country … I hope they’re listening,” Jabeur said on the pitch after the game.
Then, on the Grand Slam circuit, the last major of the year, the US Open in New York, from August 29 to September 11.