Wimbledon 2022: Elena Rybakina battles from set down to beat Ons Jabeur for her first Grand Slam title

Elena Rybakina Getty 2022 Wimbledon
Getty Images

History was on the line at Centre Court at Wimbledon and it was Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina who came out on top against Tunisia's Ons Jabeur, winning her first Grand Slam title. Jabeur was the first Arab woman and first African-born player to reach a Grand Slam final, while Rybakina -- who was born in Russia -- is the first player representing Kazakhstan to win a Grand Slam after switching to represent that country in 2018. 

Rybakina is also the first woman to win Wimbledon after losing the first set (3-6, 6-2, 6-2) since Amelie Mauresmo came back from a set down to beat Justine Henin in the 2006 Ladies' final. Also, ranked No. 23 in the world, Rybakina is the lowest ranked woman to win Wimbledon since Venus Williams won at the All England Club for the fourth time as the No. 31 player in the world. 

The story of the match was the enormous momentum swing after the first set. Jabeur controlled the first set with poise and her drop shots, forcing Rybakina to come to the net, where she looked uncomfortable early. Jabeur's movement, coupled with her precision close to the net led her to a 6-3 first set win. Rybakina also had to shake of some early nerves, getting less than 50 percent of the points on her first serves in in the first set. 

The massive turnaround hinged on two things -- Rybakina won 70 percent of her first serve points for the remainder of the match, and she wound up winning 17 of 36 points at the net. While not a great percentage, she'd looked out of answers for Jabeur coming to the net to volley and hit drop shots. 

"I was super nervous before the match, during the match, and I'm honestly happy that its finished because ... I've never felt something like this," Rybakina said after being presented with the Venus Rosewater Dish on Centre Court. The 23-year-old is the sixth different player to win the Ladies' singles at Wimbledon in the last six tournaments and the youngest winner since Petra Kvitova won in 2011 when she was 21. 

Those nerves were all gone after Rybakina was broken at love to end the first set. She was the sharper player as her first serve percentage climbed. All four of her aces came after the first set. 

Jabeur's history-making run came to a close as Rybakina steadied -- the champions finished with 29 winners in the match and converted 4 of 6 break chances -- but Jabeur was very much aware of what her presence in the final meant after the match. 

"I love this tournament so much and I feel really sad, but it's tennis ... there is only one winner. I'm really happy that I'm trying to inspire many generations from my country. ... I hope they're listening," Jabeur said on the court after the match. 

Next up on the Grand Slam circuit it the final major of the year, the US Open in New York, Aug. 29 to Sept. 11.

Live updates
(70)
See New Posts
Pinned
@WTA via Twitter
July 9, 2022, 2:55 PM
Pinned

Elena Rybakina is now serving for the championship up 5-2 after doubling up a break here in the third set.

Pinned

While this match hasn't been close, the enormous moment swings have made this incredibly dramatic. Rybakina holds after falling down 0-40 to go up 4-2 and inch closer to her first ever major championship.

Pinned

Elena Rybakina is up 3-1 in the final set, and its the first absolute must-hold situation for Ons Jabeur who has lost control of a match she was once dominating. She'll have to find some of that exquisite shot making from the first set to get back into it, because since the second set started, Rybakina has both steadied her game with fewer errors and getting more first serves in and also moving and getting to the net, and now she has an edge in net points won.

Pinned

Rybakina's momentum continues in the third set with an opening break to go up 1-0. She's looking to become the first woman to win the championship, coming back from a set down in the final, since Amelie Mauresmo came back to beat Justine Henin and win Wimbledon in 2006.

Pinned
@WTA via Twitter
July 9, 2022, 2:26 PM
Pinned

We're on to the third set. A dominant hold to close out the second set by Elena Rybakina puts that set in her bag, and we'll go the distance for the Ladies' singles championship at Wimbledon. Its the second time in as many years that the Ladies' final will go three sets -- Ash Barty beat Karolina Pliskova in three sets to win in 2021 -- and both of the matches that Jabeur and Rybakina have finished before this final have gone three sets.

See More