When a player wins a Grand Slam, our social media feeds are flooded with messages of congratulations from fellow athletes, the media and tennis organizations. Going through our Twitter and Instagram feeds the morning after Elena Rybakina’s victory over Ons Jabeur in the Wimbledon final, we are noticing that the WTA players are awkwardly silent to congratulate the new champion.
Unfortunately, Rybakina’s Wimbledon success has been accompanied by political controversies. The 23-year-old, born and raised in Moscow, in 2018 took up the citizenship of Kazakhstan for financial benefit and support and has now become the first Kazakh player — male or female — to win a Grand Slam.
Since Russian and Belarusian players were banned from playing this year’s Wimbledon, Rybakina’s victory is seen as a slap in the face to Wimbledon organizers as in the end a player of clear Russian origin won the tournament even though on paper she is Kazakh and has constantly been repeating that she has been representing Kazakhstan for a long time — given her young age, four years is indeed a long time from her perspective.
Whether these political issues have affected WTA players, or there may be some other reason, but Rybakina’s Tour colleagues have remained strangely indifferent towards her Wimbledon success. For example, when Caroline Wozniacki won the 2018 Australian Open, dozens of WTA players were quick to congratulate her.
Rybakina is not getting that type of recognition. A few exceptions include tennis legend Billie Jean King, world No.1 Iga Swiatek, as well as retired champions Ana Ivanovic and Gabriela Sabatini, who praised Rybakina for her career milestone.
Congratulations to Elena Rybakina, Kazakhstan’s first Grand Slam champion!
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) July 9, 2022
Huge congrats to you Elena and to your team! Amazing tournament 👏🏼🏆 #Wimbledon
— Iga Świątek (@iga_swiatek) July 9, 2022
— Ana Ivanovic (@anaivanovic) July 9, 2022
— Gabriela Sabatini (@sabatinigabyok) July 9, 2022
Victoria Azarenka‘s behaviour is the most interesting. The Belarusian, banned from playing Wimbledon 2022 because of the earlier-mentioned sanctions, congratulated only the runner-up Ons Jabeur, saying: “One of the best things that happened to tennis is Ons Jabeur. Keep shining and sharing your light with the world! Biggest inspiration to so many!”
Moreover, among Azarenka’s liked tweets is this one:
A Wimbledon Committee member trying to explain to Daniil Medvedev that Elena Rybakina has a strong Kazakhstan heritage pic.twitter.com/Gcj3R1ZmeR
— Chris Goldsmith (@TheTennisTalker) July 8, 2022
With brands and tennis events the situation is much better. Rybakina’s sponsor Adidas, whose Parley London Dress the champion wore en route to the trophy, congratulated her on Instagram, and so did numerous tournaments including the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy, Miami Open, and the Australian Open.
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Why do you think the majority of the WTA players didn’t feel the need to congratulate Rybakina? Why did other players’ Grand Slam triumphs make them more emotional and ready to share their feelings on social media?
If we skipped to mention a WTA player who did congratulate Rybakina, please let us know in the comments below.