Elena Rybakina feels like she’s ‘not the Wimbledon champion,’ says life as champion ‘not the greatest’ – but she’s happy it happened
Elena Rybakina has been serving up victories, and some losses, with her usual intensity and passion since 2005 when she began the climb to become a top 25 player in the world. The Russian is known on the women’s tour for her physical intensity and athleticism, and it has been evident when in the midst of the biggest matches of her career.
She’s won three titles this year, including the US Open on her U.S. debut, which was a particularly important win after she lost in the first round on her home, hard courts. She’s been a champion in the eyes of the public after making her grand slam doubles debut, when she partnered with Elena Vesnina and they stunned the world by reaching the semi-finals.
At 23, she is only playing in her third major, after four years in the junior circuit.
But the pressure was on, and there were some nerves with the US Open doubles victory, because they faced an opponent they hadn’t faced before: Serena Williams, who also won titles in Cincinnati, Cincinnati and Connecticut, was a surprise.
“I’ve never played her before,” Rybakina said. “She was very tough, very strong and very aggressive. With the experience of playing her, we did a very good job, and we were able to win the first set.”
But it took more than one win to beat Williams, who was world No. 1 at the time. Rybakina admits it was a close game that they won in the second set.
“The way she got into the game, I felt like she was ready to win the point, and we were able to win the point,” Rybakina said. “It was so important for us, because we had to get it out of the way and get to the match.”