Wimbledon champion Rybakina: More Grand Slam glory could affect image

Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina claims more success could see cracks in her trademark ice-cool image.

As Ons Jabeur pushed a forehand wide to hand the Kazakhstan player the women’s singles title on Centre Court, there was barely a flicker of emotion in the 23-year old, her outgoing rival later joking: ‘I need to teach her how to celebrate’.

Speaking exclusively on the podcast ‘Reign with Josh Smith’, Rybakina opens up about building her now famed mental strength and defeating self-doubt, admitting she arrived at the All England Club with little confidence.

“I think that everybody expected a different reaction and my friends before they were laughing and joking saying, ‘what will happen one day when you win, you never have any different reaction,” she said.

“It’s always the same. We were just wondering what your reaction is going to be when you win a grand slam,’ and unfortunately it was same reaction.

But you could see on my face, it wasn’t just that I finished that match, I was in total shock. So, I’m going to try to work hard to be in the final again and hopefully win another grand slam, maybe I’m going to have different reactions.

“I’m going to remember these two weeks as a fairytale for sure, I think by my reaction you could see that I was just shocked and kind of paralysed because I didn’t expect that it was going to happen in these two weeks.

“I came to Wimbledon maybe without the thoughts that I’m going to win a slam, so it was just more relaxed for me.”

Rybakina’s best slam performance before SW19 was the reaching the last eight of last year’s French Open but it’s clear her big-serving power game is perfectly suited to major championships – aided by her temperament too.

But she tells the podcast it’ll take time to adjust to her new status as a contender, as she heads to the US Open in New York, won last year in shock fashion by Great Britain’s Emma Raducanu.

“It’s important to have good people around you,” she added.

“I think my team, my parents, no matter what issues I have or how I feel, they were always supporting me and saying that there are always going to be ups and downs. And you just have to wait and still work because it’s going to come.

“This result it was very unexpected.  I knew that I have the game, but I was not sure that I can show it here just because I was always thinking that I have to be in the perfect shape, playing my best tennis to achieve something good and something big.

“I didn’t have great preparation, so I cannot say that I was in the best physical shape at Wimbledon. And I still think that there are many things to improve and yes, I still won the biggest title. So, this is something I should have believed in more to my team maybe earlier. That’s also a lesson.”

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