Tennis-Russian-born Rybakina calls for peace and an end to war in Ukraine


Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 6, 2022 Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina celebrates winning her quarter final match against Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic REUTERS/Paul Childs

LONDON (Reuters) - Russian-born Elena Rybakina said she wanted the war in Ukraine to end "as soon as possible" after reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals on Wednesday.

Now representing Kazakhstan, and the first player from that country to reach the last four of a Grand Slam, Rybakina beat Australian Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6 6-2 6-3 on Court One to set up a semi-final with Romanian 2019 champion Simona Halep.

She was asked afterwards whether she felt Kazakh or Russian, a sensitive subject at a tournament that this year barred players from Russia and Belarus due to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

The 23-year-old, who was born in Moscow and switched allegiance from Russia four years ago, said it was a tough question.

"I was born in Russia but of course I am representing Kazakhstan. It's already a long journey for me," she said. "I was playing Olympics, Fed Cup before. I got so much help and support.

"For me it's tough question just to say exactly what I

feel."

The 17th seed is now the only player of Russian origin remaining in the men's or women's singles draw.

She said she felt for those who had not been able to play in a tournament that was stripped of ranking points after its decision.

"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 born," she said.

"Of course, I feel it for them (the Russian and Belarusian players) because everybody wants to compete at the biggest tournament, at Wimbledon. (I) just hope that next year is going to be back to normal."

Asked about the war in Ukraine, she added: "I just want the war to end as soon as possible. Peace, yeah."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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