Elena Rybakina was born in Russia but has played for Kazakhstan since 2018.
Rybakina is currently ranked World No. 4 in the WTA Ranking and has already achieved a lot of success on the WTA Tour, almost all of which has been under the Kazakhstani flag.
The 24-year-old defeated Ons Jabeur 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 to win the Wimbledon title in 2022. She also has four other WTA titles to her name, including two from WTA 1000 tournaments.
Recently, she became the first Kazakhstani player in the Open Era to qualify for the singles WTA Finals, which will be held in Cancun, Mexico from October 29 - November 5.
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Why did Rybakina decide to play for Kazakhstan?
Rybakina revealed in an interview with WTA Insider that she changed her nationality for financial reasons.
"I finished school, and I had to decide if I should go to college. My dad wanted me to go to college because he was worried. He saw the results, but it was difficult for us financially. It's not easy. Like every parent, he was worried if I get injured. I had offers from universities in America, but I didn't even think about it because I wanted to keep playing. My dad really wanted me to go.
"Then the Kazakhstan Federation made me an offer, and the decision was easier. I changed my citizenship to Kazakhstan because they believed in me and they offered. I was not so good when they offered. So they believed in me, and they're helping me a lot," she said,
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Several other players have moved from Russia to Kazakhstan in recent years, including ATP World No. 29 Alexander Bublik. The 26-year-old made the switch in 2016, explaining that the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation were able to help him more with training.
"As hurtful as it may sound, nobody cared about me in Russia. And now people care about me. And they do everything for my career to be successful. That's the most important thing! Kazakhstan Tennis Federation – they really look after me. They help, work, create the conditions for me to play well. It was impossible in Russia.
"There is also a wonderful tennis center in Astana. I don’t know how to describe it in words. But it's awesome. Since we have already made a decision to play for Kazakhstan, I am never going back to the Russian team," he said.