Elena Rybakina feels like she’s ‘not the Wimbledon champion,’ says life as champion ‘not the greatest’
Elena Rybakina’s life is nothing like it was five years ago.
She was back as Wimbledon champion, ready to face the world’s best.
Her life has changed.
“I think it’s a little bit easier now… I think it’s nice,” she says.
“It was so hard in 2007 when every day was a struggle. I tried to make it so I could live every night for Wimbledon.”
She spent 2007 preparing for Wimbledon, which she hoped would be her last tournament. But that’s not how it turned out.
When she lost her first set to Venus Williams at Wimbledon in 2003, it was just the beginning, with the rest of her career.
“I was so excited. I think I was so excited but I was so sad at the same time… I could not really breathe. I had to go away to somewhere else and play, and I thought I did not know what to do.
“When I came back at Wimbledon, it was like ‘I am so so happy and I can tell this is better than Wimbledon.’”
That first-round loss to Venus Williams in 2002 changed everything.
“We were like ‘is it over? Is she going to stay away from us?’” says Elena Rybakina, now a coach at Russian club Linares.
After Wimbledon, she decided to try to win a Grand Slam, like she had in 2003 and 2004.
But she did not get the chance.
“My life was like a circle. When I came back, the circle was over but my life was like going around again. I did not want to go through all the bad emotions again.
“I told myself I could not go through it again… But I could not stay away from the feelings, even though it was difficult and