I make that six different winners in six editions of the women’s singles, and eight different winners in the last nine tournaments. Rybakina certainly has the grass game to become a multiple-time champion but the women’s game seems so open at the moment that, equally, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if she never makes another final. We shall see.
I guess the elephant in the room is a Russian-born player winning a tournament from which Russian players were banned (a decision which caused Wimbledon all manner of problems). You wonder if the pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge presenting the trophy to Rybakina might feature quite heavily in the Moscow media in the next few days. The head of the Russian Tennis Federation, Shamil Tarpishchev, was certainly keen to claim her success as a Russian one after her semi-final win.
Rybakina speaks! “I’m speechless,” she says. Oh.
Hang on. There’s more. “The crowd were unbelievable and I want to congratulate Ons, you are an inspiration. It was a joy to play against you.
“It’s an honour to play here in this unbelievable atmosphere.
“I didn’t expect to be in the second week. To be a winner is just amazing. I wouldn’t be here without my team of course, so I want to say a big thanks to them. And most importantly my parents.”
Sue Barker welcomes the Duchess of Cambridge onto the court, and she hands the runners-up trophy to Ons Jabeur who is cheered to the rafters, a more reserved reception goes to Elena Rybakina, who picks up the Venus Rosewater Dish.
Here’s our snap report of the game:
Tumaini Carayol’s write-up will be online soon-ish.
Rybakina responds with a smile and a wave, like she’s just won a small raffle prize at a village fete. Jabeur, meanwhile, is slumped on her chair with her head between her knees, a picture of devastation. Finally the Kazakh heads into the stands and hugs her entourage to warm applause, though you can tell the crowd’s heart isn’t quite in it.
Rybakina wins the women’s singles title
Third set: Jabeur 6-3, 2-6, 2-6 Rybakina* (*denotes server) Rybakina booms down a 117mph ace, then follows it up with a double fault. And Jabeur goes 15-30 up after yet another drop shot pulls Rybakina out of position. A wild and wide backhand brings us back to 30-30 and Jabeur follows it up with a poor forehand that drifts wide.
Championship point: Rybakina nets her first serve but Jabeur blasts the return wide from the next and Elena Rybakina is the Wimbledon champion.
Third set: Jabeur* 6-3, 2-6, 2-5 Rybakina (*denotes server) That has to be a sickener for Jabeur, who will be thinking about those three break points for weeks and months if this goes against her now. She looks a little shaky early on in this service game and strays wide with a couple of passing shots as Rybakina charges the net and goes 15-30 up. Another Jabeur dropshot kisses the cord and drops over but she strays long from the next and Rybakina has a break point at 30-40 … and she takes it. Rybakina has a double break and will serve for the championship!
Third set: Jabeur 6-3, 2-6, 2-4 Rybakina* (*denotes server) The decibel level cranks up on Centre Court again as Jabeur’s drop shot clips the net and drops over to give her a 0-15 lead on the Rybakina serve then cranks up some more as she moves 0-30 ahead. The roof almost comes off as a lob drifts in and brings Jabeur three break points at 0-40.
Rybakina saves the first with a powerful, deep forehand, then Jabeur is just wide with a drop shot after a terrific rally that again brings the crowd to its feet. One final break point … and a thumping serve followed by a crunching backhand brings Rybakina back to deuce. That’s a pretty impressive response from the 23-year-old at such a pivotal stage in her first grand slam final. She serves and volleys her way to a remarkable hold and is just games away from the Wimbledon title.
Third set: Jabeur* 6-3, 2-6, 2-3 Rybakina (*denotes server) Again Jabeur gets roared on to the baseline for her service game. There’s a little fist pump from the Tunisian as she takes a 30-15 lead and Rybakina tightens up on a simple volley, sending it off towards Fulham and sending Jabeur 40-15 up. Again there’s tension from Rybakina from the next, and she goes long to give Jabeur the hold.
Third set: Jabeur 6-3, 2-6, 1-3 Rybakina* (*denotes server) The Centre Court crowd roared their support for Jabeur at the start of that service game then roared their delight as she secured the hold. There’s no doubt who is the fan favourite here. And they have reason to cheer early on in this Rybakina service game as Jabeur gets the better of a rally to go 0-15 up. But there are groans as she nets a simple return, then goes long from the next to send Rybakina 30-15 up. And boom, boom, boom, the Rybakina serve clicks into gear to give her a hold to 30.
Third set: Jabeur* 6-3, 2-6, 1-2 Rybakina (*denotes server) Jabeur, beginning to look a little short of ideas (or, at least, short of time to execute the ideas she has), nets an attempted drop shot and is relieved to see Rybakina go long and then wide to give her a 30-15 lead. She could just do with a foothold in this set to break the string of games Rybakina has put together and she moves to a 40-15 lead after another drop shot puts Rybakina in trouble. And she has the hold after the Kazakh goes long from the next.
Third set: Jabeur 6-3, 2-6, 0-2 Rybakina* (*denotes server) Rybakina has won five of the last six games but misses a routine forehand at the net then drifts long to give Jabeur a 15-30 lead. Again this feels like a big point … but Jabeur goes long with a lob after a stroke of luck with the net cord. Rybakina gets the better of another long rally from the next and powers a forehand past her opponent from the next to secure the hold. Make that six of the last seven.
Third set: Jabeur* 6-3, 2-6, 0-1 Rybakina (*denotes server) Well, that second set was almost as one-sided as the first, certainly from 3-1 after some early deuce battles. The momentum is all with Rybakina at the moment and she starts the third and final set by passing Jabeur adroitly to take a 0-15 lead.
Rybakina’s cross-court forehand has been purring but she strays wide from this one … or does she? Hawkeye shows the ball clipping the line and it’s 0-30. You can feel the importance of this next point … and Rybakina nets a forehand to bring up 15-30. Again the Rybakina forehand to the Jabeur forehand is effective and she has two break points. Jabeur saves the first with a fine first serve but makes a right hash of what should be a routine winner at the net and Rybakina is able to volley away for the break!
Elena Rybakina wins the second set 6-2
Second set: Jabeur 6-3, 2-6 Rybakina* (*denotes server) The Rybakina serve is very much back to being the weapon it has been all tournament and she’s 40-0 up without breaking sweat in this one. Three set points … and she takes the first with an ace! We’re into a decider.
Second set: Jabeur* 6-3, 2-5 Rybakina (*denotes server) A bit of help from the net cord enables Rybakina to go 0-30 up and Jabeur is perhaps letting her thoughts stray to a deciding set. She does look like she could do with a mental reset at the moment. Still, she battles back to 40-30 and a fine first serve on the next means Rybakina is going to have to serve this out.
Second set: Jabeur 6-3, 1-5 Rybakina* (*denotes server) A ferocious ace puts Rybakina 30-0 ahead in this one and it’s Jabeur’s turn to ponder how on earth she’s going to turn the momentum around. A straightforward hold to 15.
Second set: Jabeur* 6-3, 1-4 Rybakina (*denotes server) The last three games have been epics and we’re quickly at 30-all again in this one. Jabeur misses a forehand down the line and Rybakina has a break point at 30-40. There’s not to be another lengthy deuce battle here though – Jabeur goes long and Rybakina has the double break!
Second set: Jabeur 6-3, 1-3 Rybakina* (*denotes server) Some belting winners from both players here but again Rybakina is on top in the early exchanges. The nerves haven’t disappeared entirely though – she should put the game away at 40-15 but misses wildly with a simple passing shot at the net, and in a blink of an eye we’re back to deuce once more.
Jabeur changes the angles brilliantly to force her opponent into an awkward forehand from the baseline which goes long to bring up a break point … but a thunderous forehand from Rybakina saves it. Again Rybakina is long from the next – another break point … another save. A double-fault and another break point … and Jabeur nets a backhand to bring us back to a fifth deuce. And Rybakina finally gets the hold (again after the umpire had dissuaded Jabeur from a challenge – Hawkeye shows the serve was wide).
Second set: Jabeur* 6-3, 1-2 Rybakina (*denotes server) Jabeur headed the ball clear like a grizzled old centre half at the end of the last game and here attempts a tweener to entertain the crowd. Rybakina is having none of it and booms a backhand down the line to take us to 30-all.
Jabeur responds by sending her opponent out wide, dragging her back in with a drop shot, then passing her with ease. Rybakina, though, chases down another drop shot from the next and takes us to deuce. And from the second deuce she chases down another and brilliant flips a winner cross-court. Another break point … but a Jabeur backhand snicks the net cord and goes over. A couple of points later Jabeur escapes with the hold but the traffic is certainly no longer one way.
Second set: Jabeur 6-3, 0-2 Rybakina* (*denotes server) That break has put a spring into the step of Rybakina, who forces Jabeur into a couple of errors and races into a 30-0 lead. An astounding volley from point-blank range gets Jabeur back into the game at 30-15 but a passing shot as Rybakina charges the net goes wide.
She should put the game to bed from the next … but strays long with a simple forehand … or does she? The linesperson calls it in, the umpire calls it out without going to Hawkeye … and the replay shows it comfortably caught the line! 40-30 and two points later Jabeur has a break point, but a booming serve squashes that hope. And a couple of commanding points from the Kazakh player gives her the hold and avoids turning that line call into a hugely controversial moment.
Second set: Jabeur* 6-3, 0-1 Rybakina (*denotes server) That was a pretty one-sided first set in the end – Jabeur won it with two breaks and was never threatened on her own serve. Rybakina needs to up her game and fast – sorting out her malfunctioning first serve would be a start.
Before that, Jabeur gets us under way in the second set, netting a forehand to take us to 30-all. And a fantastic forehand down the line give Rybakina a first break point of the match at 30-40 … and Jabeur nets a forehand to give her opponent an early break. That came out of nowhere.
Ons Jabeur wins the first set 6-3
First set: Jabeur 6-3 Rybakina* (*denotes server) Rybakina nets a routine forehand from mid-court and is beginning to look a little disheartened – she double-faults from the next and Jabeur is two points from the first set at 0-30. Another wild and long forehand takes us to 0-40 and three set points for Jabeur … of which she needs only one!
First set: Jabeur* 5-3 Rybakina* (*denotes server) Jabeur serves with new balls and feels emboldened to charge the net – Rybakina’s attempted passing shot is well wide. At 30-0 we have a cracking rally, Jabeur’s drop shot forcing Rybakina to reply with the same but then missing a smash at the net. Jabeur, having very little trouble on her serve at the moment, holds to love.
First set: Jabeur 4-3 Rybakina* (*denotes server) Jabeur again keeps a return from a Rybakina second serve between the lines, then gets the better of the rally: a real pattern in these opening exchanges but not one she can repeat in the rest of this game. Rybakina gets a confidence-boosting hold to 15.
First set: Jabeur* 4-2 Rybakina (*denotes server) At 30-15 Jabeur makes a rare error and strays long with a forehand to bring up 30-all but a 110mph serve is an illustration of her own power and Rybakina nets from the next, so it’s another fuss-free hold for the Tunisian.
First set: Jabeur 3-2 Rybakina* (*denotes server) Jabeur again gets a look at 15-30 on the Rybakina serve … but some sweet striking on the back of a couple of crunching first serves takes Rybakina 40-30 up. Jabeur, though, just won’t relent and again forces an error – deuce – then pounces on a floating second serve to bring up another break point. A wild forehand takes us back to deuce.
The Tunisian is sending over more slice than a pizza factory and again Rybakina errs to bring up another break point … but this time Jabeur nets a drop-shot attempt. And, blessed relief for Rybakina, when her opponent nets again she has a hard-earned hold.
First set: Jabeur* 3-1 Rybakina (*denotes server) Jabeur is ticking now and races into a 30-0 lead, fist-pumping after each successful point. A quite remarkable flicked cross-court backhand leaves Rybakina stranded at the net for 40-0 and a crunching serve gives the No 3 seed a routine and confident hold.
First set: Jabeur 2-1 Rybakina* (*denotes server) You sense Jabeur has to attack the second serves and she does just that here, a forceful backhand getting her into the game at 15-15. A sloppy forehand from Rybakina goes deep on the next bringing us to 15-30 and a first real pressure point.
A delightful cross-court backhand from Rybakina brings it back to 30-all but Jabeur again takes the pace of the ball and draws the error to earn a break point at 30-40. And Rybakina, struggling to cope with Jabeur’s variety, again goes long from the baseline. We have an early break!
First set: Jabeur* 1-1 Rybakina (*denotes server) Jabeur starts confidently on her serve and a cracking ace down the centre gives her a 40-15 lead but a brilliant forehand down the line from Rybakina serves notice of her returning ability. 40-30 … but Rybakina goes wide with a backhand and Jabeur holds.
First set: Jabeur 0-1 Rybakina* (*denotes server) Here we go then. Jabeur won the toss and decided to receive, presumably hoping early nerves shake Rybakina’s booming serve. There’s no sign of early jitters from the Kazakh, though, with Jabeur able to get only one of the first three serves back in play. That enables Rybakina to race into a 40-0 lead, but when Jabeur can get a rally going there’s far more joy for her and she battles back to 40-30 before a thumping forehand from her opponent gets her on the board.
The players emerge on to Centre Court and are greeted by warm cheers. Warm is the word too – it’s a hot one in London today.
Ons Jabuer is in the tunnel prior and looks pretty emotional to be just moments away from a Wimbledon final. Elena Rybakina has joined her and we don’t have long to wait now.
Celeb watch! Cherie Blair, Grayson Perry, Ellie Goulding, Rebel Wilson, Cliff Richard, Dame Maggie Smith and Elaine Paige have all been snapped on their way in to Wimbledon today, if you’re interested in that sort of thing. The Duchess of Cambridge will be there to present the trophy to the winner.
In the day’s first final on No 3 Court Diede de Groot has won the women’s wheelchair singles for the fourth time, beating Yui Kamiji in straight sets.
Some pre-match reading
Here’s Tumaini Carayol’s assessment of what we can expect tactically this afternoon:
Here’s Simon Speakman Cordall and Aina J Khan on how Jabeur’s success has gone down in Tunisia:
And if pictures rather than words are your thing, here’s Tom Jenkins’s photo essay of the tournament:
Road to the final
Jabeur did not drop a set until the quarter-finals but needed three sets to beat Marie Bouzkova there and three more to oust Tatjana Maria in the semi-finals. Unusually she’s faced only one seed en route to the final – Elise Mertens, the No 24 seed, in the fourth round.
Rybakina’s route has been rather similar – no sets dropped until the quarters (where Ajla Tomljanovic forced her to go the distance) and only one seed faced: No 16 seed Simon Halep in the semi-finals. A 122mph serve in her fourth-round win over Petra Martic tells you where her strength lies.
Hello all. Well this should be good. A women’s singles draw that at times – through absences and early exits – threatened to throw up a final that lacked star power has instead produced an intriguing showpiece that has already made history.
Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur is the first woman of north African or Arab descent to reach a grand slam final and her chance to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish coincides with the celebration of Eid al-Adha.
Her opponent Elena Rybakina, meanwhile, is also in her first slam final. She opted to represent Kazakhstan four years ago but was born in Russia and still lives in Moscow. So, well, there’s that.
So whoever wins the impact is likely to echo well beyond SW19, for good or ill. As for the tennis itself, we’re likely to see a fascinating clash of styles, Jabeur’s subtle and varied game coming up against the 6ft Rybakina’s powerful serve. The bookies have Jabeur as the odds-on favourite but I have a feeling it might be very close indeed.