If you didn’t recognize her name, you will now. Elena Rybakina walked away from Wimbledon as a brand-new Grand Slam champion.
Behind her powerful groundstrokes and even more powerful serve, Rybakina became the 57th different Slam winner in the Open Era, but the first representing Kazakhstan.
What do we make of her run? And what else impressed us at SW19? Here are our final thoughts from the All England Club:
Looking back at two weeks of Wimbledon, when did you first start to believe Elena Rybakina could very well run through the field all the way to the winner’s circle?
Jason Juzwiak: When Rybakina hit 15 aces in her quarterfinal win against Ajla Tomljanovic, it finally clicked that this could be an unstoppable part of her game, regardless of her opponent. Honestly, I had not retained that she had become this season’s ace leader until then. But once I saw that statistic, and that her serve was in full force during the event, I thought that Rybakina at least had the potential to win any match she started.
Alex Macpherson: Her second-round win against in-form Bianca Andreescu gave me pause. The mounting ace tally was another warning sign. Still, for most of the fortnight, I stuck with my title pick of Ons Jabeur. But it was the way in which Rybakina shut out Simona Halep in the semifinals that made me realize she didn't just have the game to spoil the Tunisian's party, but would be able to rise to the occasion as well.
Courtney Nguyen: Rybakina made the second week without dropping a set, but that's not what made me a believer. It was the fact that she progressed through her first three matches in six tight sets, against CoCo Vandeweghe, Bianca Andreescu -- who had just made the Bad Homburg final -- and Zheng Qinwen. In the first week, Rybakina went 3-0 in tiebreaks and 5-0 when a set went past 5-5.
- Champions Corner: Rybakina quiets the doubts with Wimbledon win
- In retrospect, Elena Rybakina was hiding in plain sight all along
- 'Today history has been made': Rybakina praised after Wimbledon win
- Jabeur stays positive after Wimbledon loss: 'It wasn't meant to be'
- Win or lose, Ons Jabeur left a lasting impression at home and abroad
- Insider Wrap: Rybakina delivers on potential, Jabeur inspires with final run
A host of unseeded players were looking strong heading into the second week. Who surprised you the most?
Juzwiak: Harmony Tan came into Wimbledon with only one tour-level semifinal on her resume, on the high-altitude clay of Bogota. As daunting as it was to edge Serena Williams on Centre Court, it was likely just as daunting to try to back that victory up. But Tan did not suffer a letdown and reached the Round of 16, exceeding my expectations. I’m intrigued to see what she does next.
Macpherson: I sat down for an interview with Tatjana Maria in the first week, on the basis that a mother of two who was still on maternity leave this time last year reaching the third round was already a remarkable and underrated story. I've long appreciated the German's slice-and-dice game aesthetically, and it didn't surprise me to see her troubling higher-ranked, bigger-hitting opposition. But after 46 previous Grand Slam appearances in which she had gone beyond the second round only once, to see her take that old-school craft all the way to the semifinals at this stage of her career was jaw-dropping.
Nguyen: I'm mature enough to admit it. I absolutely did not see Tatjana Maria coming, especially with the draw she had. She stunned No.5 Maria Sakkari to make her first Round of 16. Then she saved match points to upset No.12 seed Jelena Ostapenko, who was not short on confidence. Holding off Jule Niemeier 7-5 in the third was an incredible test given what was at stake. And just like that, we had a stunning run to a major semifinal.
And finally, give us your …
Best match of the tournament
Juzwiak: I’m going off-grid and picking Alicia Barnett and Jonny O’Mara’s second-round mixed doubles win against Venus Williams and Jamie Murray, ending in an 18-16 tiebreak featuring scintillating play by both teams.
Macpherson: If Harmony Tan's first-round win against Serena Williams was a triumph of finesse over power, then Tatjana Maria's comeback from two match points down against Jelena Ostapenko in the fourth round was the same but ramped up to 11.
Nguyen: Harmony Tan's dramatic, edge-of-your-seat win against Serena Williams in the first round.
Shot of the tournament
Juzwiak: The Rybakina ace -- all 53 of them in the fortnight. It defined her championship run.
Macpherson: The Harmony Tan tweener, which she successfully used not once but twice -- against Sara Sorribes Tormo in the second round, then against Katie Boulter in the third.
Nguyen: I don't know what was more shocking about Ons Jabeur's incredible pickup volley in the semifinals against Maria -- that she actually pulled it off or that she didn't win the point.
Quote of the tournament
Juzwiak: “It's nice to play Elena, to be honest with you. Even when you lose against her, she didn't do any big celebration or anything. I need to teach her how to celebrate really good.” -- Ons Jabeur, following the championship match.
Macpherson: "I don't relax. I don't see a way to do it now. I can go for massage, but probably I will think about what's going on at home. Sometimes, sometimes when I train in Italy, it's a very nice place, and it's a small city, a small town by the sea, and sometimes when you are just eating great food and having amazing Italian espresso, and you see that you are surrounded by beautiful nature, for some moments you forget and you're relaxed and you think, 'Oh, the life is good.' But it's just seconds. It's very tough for me to explain to you, but -- and I hope none of the people will ever feel this, but it's just like some part of me is just always so tight, and I think it will be a big release when the war will finish, but not before." -- Ukrainian player Lesia Tsurenko, who reminded us that beyond a tennis tournament, war is still raging in her home country.
Nguyen: "Some people like to do bungee-jumping. I like to come back to tennis after having kids, I guess." -- Tatjana Maria after reaching the third round.