Kate dropped into controversy – picture 'makes mockery' of Wimbledon's Russia ban


Tunisian third seed Jabeur bid to become the first Arab player to win a Grand Slam singles title but Rybakina, who was born in Russia but has represented Kazakhstan since 2018, defeated her in a 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win.

Rybakina switched her nationality years before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began. Still, the fact that the tennis star was born, coached, educated and domiciled in Moscow meant Wimbledon “ended up with precisely the picture it had been so desperate to avert”, the Telegraph’s Chief Sports Writer said.

After Russian athletes were banned from Wimbledon as a result of Vladimir Putin’s war, which the dictator launched in late February, pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge with Rybakina “made a mockery of Wimbledon’s Russia ban” and “wreathed in the bleakest irony”, Oliver Brown wrote.

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He argued: “The moment was enough to provoke howls of despair through the panelled corridors that lead off the Centre Court grass.

“All along, Wimbledon’s rationale for blanket exclusion of Russians had been to deny Putin any chance of a propaganda coup.

“This ladies’ final, though, brought a photo opportunity that would have everybody at London’s Russian Embassy laughing uproariously over their vodka glasses.”

A blunt Mr Brown added: “A champion made in Russia, accepting the greatest prize in tennis from Britain’s future queen?

“This was the outcome, for Wimbledon, of which nightmares were made.”

He added: “Lena lives in Moscow, grew up here, became a player here.

“Congratulations to the Royal Family, they will have to reward the native of Russia.”

Rybakina, ahead of meeting the Duchess, expressed her excitement for what she was sure was to be an “amazing” moment.

She said: “It’s an honour and I’m going to be very excited for this moment no matter if I win or lose.

“I think it’s just something to remember and it’s going to be amazing.”

The duchess, wearing an elegant yellow gown, told Rybakina that she played “really well”.

Kate, alongside Prince William and Prince George, was on Sunday spotted at the South London club for the men’s singles final between Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios and is in charge of presenting the winning and runner-up trophies following the game.

Serbian Djokovic is taking on Australian Kyrgios – the former a 20-time Grand Slam champion, the latter a major singles final debutant.

Eight-year-old George appeared excited to attend the championship, while his siblings, seven-year-old Princess Charlotte and four-year-old Prince Louis were not taken along.


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