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Russian-born Elena Rybakina says she wants ‘war to end’ after quarter-final win

Elena Rybakina celebrates victory against Ajla Tomljanovic in the women’s quarter final match (PA)
Elena Rybakina celebrates victory against Ajla Tomljanovic in the women’s quarter final match (PA)

Russian-born tennis player Elena Rybakina said she wants the war in Ukraine to end “as soon as possible” after winning her quarter-final match at Wimbledon.

The 23-year-old, who was born in Moscow, switched allegiances to Kazakhstan in 2018 and has therefore been eligible to compete at Wimbledon despite its ban on Russian and Belarusian players due to the invasion of Ukraine.

Rybakina, who has reached the Wimbledon semi-finals after beating Ajla Tomljanovic on Court No 1 on Wednesday, is now two wins away from the Wimbledon title.

Speaking at a press conference after the match, the world number 23 was questioned about her thoughts on peace in Ukraine in light of her global platform.

The 23-year-old said: “Of course, I agree. I just want the war to end as soon as possible and peace yeah.”

Rybakina was also asked if she was concerned when Russian and Belarusian players were banned, to which she replied: “I mean, when I heard this, this is not something you want to hear because we are playing sport.

“Everybody wants to compete. They were not choosing where they (were) born.

“Of course, I feel it for them because everybody wants to compete at the biggest tournament, at Wimbledon.

“Yeah, just hope that next year is going to be back to normal.”

Asked if she felt more Russian or Kazakh, she said: “I mean, it’s tough question.

“I was born in Russia, but of course I am representing Kazakhstan. It’s already a long journey for me. I was playing Olympics, Fed Cup before.

“I got so much help and support. I’m feeling just the support of the people and very happy to represent Kazakhstan because I think I’m also bringing some results, which are very good for the sport in Kazakhstan.

“I’m feeling just the support of the people and very happy to represent Kazakhstan because I think I’m also bringing some results, which are very good for the sport in Kazakhstan.

“Yeah, for me it’s tough question just to say exactly what I feel.”

The All England Club’s decision in April to ban Russian and Belarussian players from competing at the Championships sparked criticism in some quarters and eventually saw the ATP and WTA strip ranking points from the tournament.

Wimbledon organisers have since defended the decision saying they had “no viable alternative”.