Russian tennis players are ‘changing citizenship’ in the same way as Wimbledon champions

Elena Rybakina

After winning Wimbledon, Elena Rybakina gained attention for something other than her accomplishments. The Moscow-born 23-year-old served as Russia’s representative till 2018. And this year at the All England Club, she was able to win her first Grand Slam championship.

Since the Wimbledon champion switched allegiance from Russia to Kazakhstan in 2018, Russian athletes seem to be following her example. According to the vice president of the Tennis Association of Kazakhstan, more than 30 Russian athletes, some as young as 12. Have begun submitting citizenship change applications.

Notwithstanding the prohibition on Russians and Belarusians, she represents Kazakhstan. Although benefitted by playing for Kazakhstan, world No. 26 decided to change citizenship prior to the embargo’s implementation. Team contests like the Davis Cup and the Billie Jean King Cup are no longer open to Russian players. In reaction to the conflict in Ukraine tennis.

Furthermore, it seems that a sizable number of athletes are attempting to leave Russia and Kazakhstan as Rybakina did. The Kazakh tennis federation’s vice president told Championat that 30 Russian tennis players had filed for Kazakh citizenship.

“Until today, there were more than 30 applications,”

said Yuriy Polskiy.

Despite the fact that most of the players seeking new teams are juniors who just started their professional careers. Polskiy stated how some adult professionals are indeed interested in representing Kazakhstan, but he did not name any specific candidates.

He continued: “They are mostly children, from 12 years old and up. There are also professionals, adult players who would like to make such a transfer.”

If you have played for the senior national team of one country, in the Davis Cup or the Billie Jean King Cup, you cannot play for another country”

Some individuals were unable to represent Kazakhstan, according to the vice president of Kazakh tennis. Due to the regulations set forth by the International Tennis Federation for the “World Cup of tennis” competitions – the Billie Jean King Cup and the Davis Cup.

“But not everyone can because if you have played for the senior national team of one country, in the Davis Cup or the Billie Jean King Cup, you cannot play for another country,” he stated. Additionally, Polskiy revealed that some of the top Russian players at the moment have previously considered going to Kazakhstan.

In the early stages of their careers, like Rybakina and ATP world No. 43, Alexander Bublik did.

 “Of the current Russian national team, I mean both men’s and women’s, of those who are at the top of tennis, many thoughts about the possibility of “moving” to Kazakhstan, but those decisions were not realized for various reasons,”

He confessed.

“By the way, that process happens all the time, it happened a month ago, and it will happen in five, ten years. Especially now we have many requests from players from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine for such a transfer.”

He described Kazakhstan’s vetting procedure for players wishing to transfer allegiances, as the country is quickly becoming a sought-after tennis nation.

“We are wise enough to choose only those who are interesting to us because our priority is local players. But, when we see that a tennis player is in a situation, as Jelena was, that they will either finish playing, or they will receive support and continue, then the president of our Association gives a chance,”

Polskiy added.

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