Russian-born Elena Rybakina powered back to win the Wimbledon title 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 on Saturday, denying Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur a chance to make African tennis history.
World number two Jabeur was in charge at the start of the match but the 17th seed, representing Kazakhstan, regrouped and dropped just four more games on the way to sealing her first Grand Slam title.
Jabeur had become the first Arab and African woman to reach a Grand Slam final.
Rybakina is a 23-year-old who was born in Moscow and has represented Kazakhstan since 2018, when that country offered her funding to support her tennis career. The switch has been a topic of conversation during Wimbledon, because The All England Club barred all players who represent Russia or Belarus from entering the tournament because of the war in Ukraine.
This was the first women’s title match since 1962 at the All England Club between two players who were making their debuts in a major final.
Rybakina is ranked No. 23. Since the WTA computer rankings began in 1975, just one woman ranked lower than Rybakina won Wimbledon — Venus Williams in 2007 at No. 31, although she previously had been No. 1 and already won three of her five career trophies at the All England Club.
Rybakina used her big serve and powerful forehand to overcome Jabeur’s mix of spins and slices at Centre Court on Saturday. Rybakina ended Jabeur’s 12-match winning streak, which came entirely on grass courts.