Updated: Jul 19
Elena Rybakina, a Moscow native, won Wimbledon, although not while representing Russia.
Elena Rybakina, a native of Moscow, won Wimbledon last week on behalf of Kazakhstan, her adoptive nation. Shamil Tarpischev, the head of the Russian Tennis Federation, has denied suggestions that the star escaped for his nation.
The 23-year-old Rybakina upset the third seed Ons Jabeur in the Wimbledon Center Court final on Saturday, making history by becoming the first Russian-born champion of a competition that forbade Russian and Belarusian competitors.
Rybakina, who had previously represented Russia in her career, chose to represent Kazakhstan starting in 2018, accepting an offer of increased financial support to do so. However, the manner of her victory has some wondering how a player with such potential could elude the Russian tennis infrastructure.
Tarpischev, who claimed to be rooting for Rybakina at Saturday's final, stated of Rybakina via Match TV, "We didn't [overlook] anyone."
Since individuals are so incompetent, it is useless to discuss these issues. I'm not interested in debating them. Her story makes no sense; it has been recounted a million times.
"All parents of athletes desire the finest circumstances for their kids, that is a reality. One of the former Soviet countries offers this chance from time to time. Just agreement and departure occur. This is an only financial concern. People seek excellence. Is it reasonable?
The scenario, Tarpischev continued, can be boiled down to one single factor: money.
He claims that because Russian tennis doesn't receive the same amount of funding as domestic sports like football or ice hockey, it is inevitable that certain talented players may occasionally be overlooked.
He continued, "By the way, roughly 20 of our players play for Kazakhstan.
For instance, [Alexander] Bublik also departed due to financial concerns. Because the athlete decides where it is best, there is neither good nor bad in this. These things would not exist if we had money like there is in sports like football or hockey. But we can't keep paying forever, right?
In addition, Rybakina's success on the international scene has not caused any ill will, said Tarpischev, who even went so far as to congratulate his rival in the Kazakh tennis league.
Rybakina is a fantastic athlete and person, therefore I'm glad she won, he continued. “Yesterday I also congratulated the President of the Tennis Federation of Kazakhstan, Bulat Zhamitovich Utemuratov. I should also mention that [former Kazakh President] Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev supports him and is a tennis enthusiast.
We still have a lot of talented individuals, but we are unable to support everyone.
"The federations of the nations that control the "Grand Slam" have a budget of $100 million, and we have seven. That is the primary distinction. We use a contract system similar to other sports, however, we lack the funding to maintain 250 players.
"Elena has been gifted since she was young, and she completed the entire system with us until she was 18 years old. We were aware of her talent, but we are only human.
Rybakina appears to agree with Yuri Polsky, vice-president of the Tennis Federation of Kazakhstan, who refuted Tarpischev's assertion that Rybakina was a "product" of Russian tennis when she attributes Kazakh tennis with helping her develop into a great player.
In 2020, she stated, "I shifted my citizenship to Kazakhstan because they believed in me and they offered. "When they offered, I wasn't doing so well. They supported me and helped me a lot since they believed in me.
Utemuratov, the head of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, who is credited with helping Rybakina improve and who was present for her memorable victory in SW19, stated that while Russia was stunned by her rapid success, no one in Kazakhstan was as shocked.
It wasn't unexpected, he said. "Elena had been consistently getting better and moving in the direction of this kind of success for a while.
"Eleanor thought about quitting her job for a while when she was 18 years old. We are pleased that we were able to provide her with the chance to realize her aspirations through assistance from our federation at a time when it was needed most.
This week, Rybakina is scheduled to visit Kazakhstan, where she will be honored for her accomplishments and meet with media personnel and admirers who are anticipated to throng to see the first tennis player from that nation to win a Grand Slam title.