Elena Rybakina's dad hits back at claim that Wimbledon champion is a 'Russian product'

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Elena Rybakina’s father has hit back after the president of the Russian Tennis Federation claimed the Wimbledon champion was their “product” despite the Moscow-born star’s decision to switch allegiances to Kazakhstan four years ago. When the world No 25 won her maiden Grand Slam title last month, Russian tennis bosses tried to claim her as one of their own.

Rybakina became the Wimbledon champion last month when she defeated Ons Jabeur from a set down in the final. The 23-year-old’s victory caused some controversy after the All England Club banned Russian and Belarusian players from competing amid the war in Ukraine, with the Kazakh born and raised in Moscow.

The world No 25 had changed allegiances to Kazakhstan back in 2018 in events entirely unrelated to the war but some Russian figures attempted to claim her victory as their own, while Shamil Tarpishchev, president of the Russian Tennis Federation, branded Rybakina a “product of the Russian school”. And the Wimbledon winner’s dad has now responded to the comments, explaining why his daughter stopped representing their home country.

“I think that people who depended on something and who could help, are now a little sorry,” Andrei Rybakin told Sport Express Russia, claiming that Russian tennis bosses were now regretting their poor negotiations with the family. He also admitted that he wasn’t interested in negotiations with Russia, as he and Rybakina opted to look elsewhere for support for her career.

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“I had certain exits, and if I had shown more enthusiasm in this direction, something with the help of the Russian Tennis Federation might have come out. But I did not take advantage of these opportunities,” he explained. Rybakin also revealed that the country’s federation failed to give the Wimbledon champion financial backing when they offered her a contract as a child.

He continued: “At some point, the federation sent me a contract for Lena. But I looked at him and felt sad. The essence of the contract is expressed in the well-known catchphrase: ‘There is no money, but you hold on.’ Honestly, I would be ashamed to send such a contract.”

And Rybakina’s dad made a subtle dig at the Russian tennis president as he challenged his claim that the three-time title winner was their “product”, remarking that Tarpishchev could have been limited with his language. “And the approach itself is ‘our product;. Another would say – ‘biomass’. Unfortunately, we have such an approach to individuals,” he said of the Russian mentality.

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“I don’t take offence at anyone. It’s just that some things are said due to, let’s say, linguistic limitations. There are only a few people who received a good education and achieved high results in sports. That’s why all these ‘products’ sound.”

The Wimbledon winner herself has previously explained that she opted to change allegiances because of the support that the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation offered her in comparison to that of her country of birth. “I think it was very good timing because they were looking for the player,” she said of her decision to represent Kazakhstan.

“I was looking for some help. They believed in me. So I think it was very good combination. We just find each other. They believed in me. They made everything possible for me to keep playing, keep improving. I had all the conditions to practise and everything. Of course, it helped a lot. They are still helping and supporting me. I’m really happy that I’m representing Kazakhstan already for long time”



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