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Rybakina defended over Russia to Kazakhstan switch before Jabeur Wimbledon final

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ELENA RYBAKINA’S adopted homeland has come to her defence in the controversy over her roots.

Moscow-born Rybakina switched flags from Russia to Kazakhstan in 2018 but the move is overshadowing her first Slam final due to the war in Ukraine.

Elena Rybakina is into the Wimbledon final, four years after switching allegiance from Russia to Kazakhstan

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Elena Rybakina is into the Wimbledon final, four years after switching allegiance from Russia to KazakhstanCredit: Richard Pelham / The Sun

Wimbledon banned all players from Russia and Belarus as a result of the conflict.

World No 23 Rybakina holds a Kazakhstani passport but that has not stopped the questions.

Dave Miley is tennis director at the Kazakhstan Federation and the Irishman said: “Lots of players are born in one country and represent another.

“Cameron Norrie chose to represent Great Britain, not New Zealand.

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“Greg Rusedski played juniors for Canada before switching to Great Britain. Martina Navratilova was born in Czech Republic and adopted America.

“Garbine Muguruza was born in Venezuela but plays for Spain.

“Ask them why they did it? They obviously thought it was better for their careers — be that for funding or sponsorship reasons.

“There are lots of examples in this sport of players doing this.

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“She wanted to change country and the International Tennis Federation approved it.

“Elena’s been representing Kazakhstan for four years and has a Kazakhstani passport.”

But the irony of a player raised in Moscow reaching a final in a year Russians are not allowed to compete is something some cannot let go.

Retired Russian player Andrei Chesnokov feels the joke is on the Duchess of Cambridge, who will meet the finalists after today’s game.

He jibed: “Lena lives in and grew up in Moscow.

“The royal family will have to congratulate someone from Russia.”


ONS JABEUR has been tipped by two Wimbledon legends to create tennis history.

Today is the start of Eid, the second largest holiday in the religion of Islam.

Ons Jabeur is aiming to be the first female from Africa to win a Grand Slam

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Ons Jabeur is aiming to be the first female from Africa to win a Grand SlamCredit: Richard Pelham / The Sun

Should Jabeur, 27, take down Kazakhstani Elena Rybakina, she will become the first Arab woman and first female from Africa to win a tennis Slam.

It could potentially open up a whole new territory for the sport and inspire future generations to pick up a racket.

Belgium’s four-time Slam champion Kim Clijsters, 39, told SunSport: “Ons is incredible.

“I just assume our organisations, the Tours and Slams, are super excited to have someone from her part of the world, especially being a female.

“I have seen how she has grown from being a player who had five options for every opportunity that she hits. And a lot of times making the wrong decisions.

“Now she has matured and makes the right choices at the right times.

“She can win this without a doubt.”

Though Poland’s Iga Swiatek, the reigning French Open champion, is world No1, Jabeur has won 83 matches since the start of 2021, the most of any woman on Tour.

Swiss star Martina Hingis, the 1997 Wimbledon champion, said: “My dark horse at the start was Ons.

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“She is very creative, she has an all-round game.

“Ons has always had the game but it taken her a little bit longer to put it all together. She had a great season so far. She is a great player to watch.”

Martina Hingis and Kim Clijsters are both full of admiration for Jabeur

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Martina Hingis and Kim Clijsters are both full of admiration for JabeurCredit: Getty



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