Will Rybakina’s Wimbledon Win Actually ‘Put Kazakhstan on the Map of World Tennis’?

Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina is embraced by household, associates and coaches within the gamers field as she celebrates after beating Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur to win the ultimate of the ladies’s singles on day 13 of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Saturday, July 9, 2022.

Credit score: AP Photograph/Kirsty Wigglesworth

On Saturday, Elena Rybakina gained the ladies’s singles closing at Wimbledon, changing into the primary tennis participant underneath the Kazakh flag to succeed in such heights. Breathless Western sports activities protection stated her win “places Kazakhstan on map of world tennis” and “may encourage an enormous tennis increase in Kazakhstan.” There are a couple of issues in translating Rybakina’s win to a tennis increase in Kazakhstan, one of many greatest being that she’s not from Kazakhstan.

Rybakina was born in Moscow and reportedly continues to reside in Russia. In actual fact, the lede in a Guardian article in regards to the 23-year-old tennis star’s Wimbledon win started with “…Rybakina has not been to Kazakhstan since April…”

At 19, Rybakina switched citizenship and federations from Russia to Kazakhstan after, “her profession stalled due to monetary points,” the Related Press reported. “The Kazakhstan Tennis Federation stepped in with a proposal — signify them in trade for the money wanted to help the worldwide life-style of a tennis participant.”

She’s not the one tennis participant competing internationally underneath the Kazakh flag. Among the many prime 100 ranked tennis singles gamers in each mens and womens worldwide circuits, there are three representing Kazakhstan, although none really from Kazakhstan: Alexander Bublik, who switched to Kazakhstan in 2016; Yulia Putintseva, who switched to Kazakhstan in 2012; and, after all, Rybakina, who switched in 2018. This isn’t a current phenomenon, nonetheless; one in every of Rybakina’s mentors has been Yaroslava Shvedova, a former participant who switched allegiance to Kazakhstan in 2008.

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After Rybakina’s win the Russian Tennis Federation claimed credit score, calling her “our product.”

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“It’s the Russian faculty, in spite of everything. She performed right here with us for a very long time, after which in Kazakhstan,” Russian Tennis Federation president Shamil Tarpishchev instructed sports activities web site Championat on Saturday.

In the meantime, because the Related Press famous, “some commentators have claimed her victory as a Russian achievement and a symbolic snub to the All England Membership’s ban on gamers representing Russia and Belarus.” Wimbledon is one in every of many worldwide sports activities competitions to ban gamers from these international locations after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

After her win, Rybakina hugged Kazakhstan Tennis Federation President Bulat Utemuratov, a businessman with fingers in quite a few sectors and a former official within the authorities of Kazakhstan’s first president, Nursultan Nazarbayev. He has been president of the federation since 2007.

A notice in one of many 2009 diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks said: “Utemuratov has lengthy been rumored to be Nazarbayev’s ‘private monetary supervisor.’” For every week in December 2020, a U.Okay. courtroom froze $5 billion value of belongings belonging to Utemuratov as a part of the tangle of lawsuits which have adopted Mukhtar Ablyazov and the murky enterprise of banking in Kazakhstan. 

On Twitter, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev congratulated Rybakina: “Kazakhstani tennis participant Elena Rybakina has achieved a historic victory within the extraordinarily prestigious Wimbledon match. I heartily congratulate this excellent athlete!” 

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Kazakhstan, after all, isn’t the primary or solely nation to amass overseas expertise in an effort to attain worldwide accolades. And definitely evidently loads of Kazakhstanis are taking delight in Rybakina’s achievement. On the identical time, others are essential of the funds spent on attracting and supporting overseas gamers as a substitute of cultivating native expertise, or essential of all the enterprise of investing massive sums of cash into status sports activities.

With reporting from the Related Press.