Elena Rybakina feels like she’s ‘not the Wimbledon champion,’ says life as champion ‘not the greatest’
Elena Rybakina felt like she was on the outside of Wimbledon as the women’s champion, with no idea where to turn but to her family and friends for support. Yet, as she was walking out after losing the 2017 Wimbledon singles final, she felt so inspired, she would have run to the nearest police station and asked for help.
In August 2017, Rybakina, a 36-year-old human rights activist from Kazan, Russia, was crowned the first Wimbledon doubles champion as the world No.1-ranked seeds, Lucie Safarova and Vera Zvonareva, found themselves in the bottom half of the draw. Rybakina, who was ranked 17, was seeded No.5 in singles and No.6 in doubles, playing with top-10 player Ekaterina Makarova. Rybakina found herself playing against the former world No.1 in the first round, just as she did in her career against Serena Williams in the first round back in 2002.
Determined to change her luck, Rybakina played three different opponents on her way out of the tournament: Makarova, Zvonareva and her brother Mikhail, who started his own company and is often at the forefront of the fight in Russia to protect his country’s LGBT community.
“I had to fight in my heart, I know I had the chance if I could just get that win,” Rybakina told Fox News.
“I think I’m not the Wimbledon champion, I guess my life as champion is not the greatest. It doesn’t help that I didn’t hear from my family, the fans, friends. But it helps that I did get that win, and then I had to fight on.”
Makarova, a member of the Canadian tennis family, was also facing her toughest draw to date. In the