Aryna Sabalenka wins the Australian Open


The Belarusian won the first Grand Slam title of her career in a close match against Yelena Rybakina. Sabalenka is the first player to win one of the four major tournaments under a neutral flag.

A kiss for the trophy – Aryna Sabalenka is happy about her first Grand Slam title

“First of all, I want to apologize for my English, I'm still shaking and super nervous,” said Aryna Sabalenka, holding the silver trophy like a baby in her arms after winning the Australian Open final in Melbourne. The tennis player from Belarus had just won her first tournament in a Grand Slam tournament. 4: 6, 6: 3 and 6: 4 prevailed in a high-class final against Wimbledon winner Jelena Rybakina from Kazakhstan. Overjoyed, the 24-year-old then accepted the slim Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup from tennis icon Billie Jean King. 

Aryna Sabalenka: first winner under a neutral flag

After Sabalenka converted her fourth match point after 2:28 hours, she broke out: she collapsed on the hard court of the Rod Laver Arena, she sobbed, cried and laughed at the same time. The fact that the Belarusian had to celebrate the greatest success of her career under a neutral flag – as the first Grand Slam tournament winner in tennis history – did not seem to bother her at the moment of triumph. As a neutral athlete, Sabalenka felt that the audience had excellent support. Because of the Russian war of aggression, Russians and Belarusians are not allowed to compete under their national flag in Melbourne. “I hope I can come back stronger next year and play better tennis so you guys can support me even more,” she said to the enthusiastic Melbourne crowd.

The athlete, who often had weak nerves in the past, remained focused in her first Grand Slam final – even after losing the first set with a weak serve that she thought had long been overcome. Sabalenka fought back with powerful baseline shots and made the preliminary decision in the third set with the break to make it 4:3. In addition to the first big title and the prize money of around 1.95 million euros, Sabalenka can also look forward to climbing to second place in the world rankings. It has never been higher in the ranking. 

Opponent Rybakina, who had eliminated three previous Grand Slam tournament winners on her way to the final with Iga Swiatek, Jelena Ostapenko and Viktoria Asarenka, showed herself to be a fair loser. The 23-year-old Russian, who has been running for Kazakhstan since 2018, said she had “goosebumps” at the final atmosphere: “I hope that I can achieve the same result next year – maybe even better.”

asz/eu (dpa)

  • Australian Open – tennis highlight at the beginning of the year

    Happy Slam

    The atmosphere at the Australian Open is extraordinary. Fans from all over the country flock to the tournament in Melbourne to celebrate the “Happy Slam”. The name is said to have been invented by Roger Federer. But not only the spectators, also the players love the first Grand Slam of the year, also because it offers everyone the chance to restart after the winter break.

  • Australian Open – tennis highlight at the beginning of the year

    Australian heat

    Those who compete in Melbourne have to be prepared for the great heat. Temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius are not uncommon at the games, which take place in the afternoon and in the afternoon. However, there can also be rapid weather changes: heat first, then heavy rain, sometimes hail and strong winds. “Four seasons in one day” is what Australians call Melbourne's peculiar weather.

  • Australian Open – tennis highlight at the beginning of the year

    Late hours

    When night falls in Melbourne, the Australian Open unfolds its special flair. The night sessions in the large arenas of the facility have a very special appeal – also because the best players are often on the pitch. The longest night shift in 2008 between Australian Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis from Cyprus only ended at 4:34 local time.

  • Australian Open – tennis highlight at the beginning of the year

    Melbourne Park

    The first tournament preceding the Australian Open took place in 1905 – initially only for men, from 1922 also for women. It will initially be held in alternating cities in Australia and New Zealand. It was not until 1972 that the company finally moved to Melbourne. Today's complex with three large arenas and a total of 24 tennis courts is located between the cricket stadium and the Yarra River in Melbourne Park.

  • Australian Open – tennis highlight at the beginning of the year

    Valuable silverware

    What Boris Becker is holding in his hands is worth around four million US dollars. The prize money in the individual competitions of the Australian Open is two million dollars. The men compete for the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup (left), the women for the more elegant Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup (right). Both namesakes won the Australian Open in the early years.

  • Australian Open – tennis highlight at the beginning of the year

    German success

    So far, Becker is the only German player who can win the Australian Open. He takes the trophy home twice. In 1991 (photo) he climbed to the top of the world rankings for the first time by beating Ivan Lendl in the final. In 1996 he won the tournament again, this time against Michael Chang. In 2003 Rainer Schüttler reached the final but lost to André Agassi.

  • Australian Open – tennis highlight at the beginning of the year

    In Steffi Graf's footsteps

    A German victory was not so long ago for women as it was for men. Angelique Kerber celebrates the first Grand Slam title of her career in Melbourne in 2016. Opponent Serena Williams (right) is happy with her after the final. After Steffi Graf, Kerber is the second German to enter the list of winners in Melbourne. Graf wins a total of four times (1988, 1989, 1990, 1994).

  • Australian Open – tennis highlight at the beginning of the year

    Outstanding legend

    Rod Laver wins the Melbourne tournament three times (1960, 1962, 1969). Australia's tennis legend is also the first winner of the “Open Era” in 1969. His success in Australia was the prelude to Laver's second Grand Slam after 1962, i.e. victory in the four most important tournaments within one calendar year. Since 2000, the main stadium in Melbourne has borne his name: Rod Laver Arena.

  • Australian Open – tennis highlight at the beginning of the year

    Controversial heroine

    Another of Melbourne's major arenas is named after Margaret Smith-Court, a record 11-time singles champion. However, many no longer agree with this because she has repeatedly made homophobic statements in recent years. John McEnroe calls her “crazy old aunt of tennis”, Martina Navratilova and others call for the Margaret Court Arena to be renamed.

  • Australian Open – tennis highlight at the beginning of the year

    Last Australian

    The Australian Mark Edmondson made history at the Australian Open in 1976: As number 212 in the world, he defeated his highly favored compatriot John Newcombe in the final. He is still the Grand Slam winner with the worst world ranking at the time of his victory. Edmondson is also the last Australian men's singles title holder to date.

  • Australian Open – tennis highlight at the beginning of the year

    Record winner

    Novak Djokovic is the most successful single player with nine successes. After the legal back and forth and his expulsion from Australia before the start of the tournament in 2022, the Serb wants to win title No. 10 at the Australia Open this year. Jack Crawford has the most wins overall. Between 1929 and 1935, the Australian won four times in singles and doubles, plus three times in mixed.

    Author: Andreas Sten-Ziemons