Elena Rybakina turns down Kazakh bonus asks for grassroots investment
Wimbledon women’s singles champion Elena Rybakina has turned down a bonus from the Kazakh Tennis Federation.
Rybakina is the first player representing Kazakhstan to win Wimbledon, and the federation were eager to show their appreciation to her for putting them on the tennis map.
However, Rybakina, who bagged a £2 million purse for her incredible All England Club exploits, has asked that the federation invests the bonus in grassroots tennis in Kazakhstan instead.
Rybakina switched allegiance from Russia to Kazakhstan to enjoy additional funding and support but having claimed a significant windfall, she has recognised the need to give back.
“First of all, of course, I would like to help the juniors, most of it (money) will go to them.
“And the second important point for me: I was at the shelter, and I was very much moved by it, so I would like to allocate money for the animal shelter,” the Astana Times quotes Rybakina.
She hopes that additional funding will help more juniors make the transition to the WTA Tour.
“The transition from juniors to an adult professional career is very difficult. Besides the fact that you have to have a good team around you, not everyone is able to continue at the professional level and only a few people reach the top. I’ve been very lucky in that respect,” said Rybakina.
There is an established tradition of Russian-born players switching allegiance to Kazakhstan, with most of the countries prominent players not born on their soil.
As a young player, Rybakina found the support she needed to establish herself on the WTA Tour in Nur-Sultan.
“At that moment, which was almost five years ago, it so happened that I had an acute question: what to do next? I was about 17-18 years old. I had to decide whether I would try to play and stay in professional sports or go studying,” she explained.
“We found each other, and at the end of the day, I am very happy that my journey continues exactly with Kazakhstan. History is happening together thanks to Kazakhstan. Thank you very much for your support.”
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