Defending Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina has publicly voiced her support for allowing Russian and Belarusian players to participate in the prestigious tennis tournament. The Kazakhstan tennis star, who was born in Moscow, believes the decision to let these players compete is the right thing to do.
Elena Rybakina in Favor of Allowing Russians and Belarusians to Compete at Wimbledon
Rybakina, currently ranked world no. 7, made the switch from her Russian roots to Kazakhstan in 2018 to benefit from better funding and opportunities. The decision proved fruitful, as she went on to win Wimbledon in 2022, the most significant achievement of her tennis career.
Speaking at a press conference during the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Rybakina expressed her opinion on the matter. She said, “I think it’s the right thing that they are going to play since all tour they have been playing, and they have already [faced] restrictions. It’s no flag, no anything. I think that it’s good to play for them, and everybody as a player wants to play in the biggest tournaments.”
Russian and Belarusian players have faced increasing hostility due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They have often been on the receiving end of hate from fans and even fellow players in the locker room. However, Rybakina has previously spoken in defense of these players, emphasizing that they didn’t choose where they were born.
Rybakina Wants Conflict Resolved and Peace
At the 2022 Wimbledon Championships, the Kazakh star said, “I mean, when I heard this, this is not something you want to hear because we are playing sport. Everybody wants to compete. They were not choosing where they were born.” She also called for an immediate end to the conflict, saying, “I just want the war to end as soon as possible. Peace, yeah.”
Wimbledon’s decision to allow Russian and Belarusian players to compete as neutral citizens, without flags or national symbols, has been met with both praise and criticism. Rybakina’s approval of the decision stems from her belief that all players should have the opportunity to participate in major tournaments.
The 23-year-old champion has not faced any hostility due to her Russian heritage, unlike Belarusian player Aryna Sabalenka, who has reported negative experiences in the locker rooms. When asked about her experiences, Rybakina stated, “Well, I didn’t have any experience like that.”
Rybakina’s backing of her fellow athletes highlights the importance of sportsmanship and unity in the world of professional tennis. As the Wimbledon tournament approaches, the tennis community will continue to debate the inclusion of Russian and Belarusian players. However, the perspective of a defending champion like Rybakina carries significant weight in the discussion.
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