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Belarusian Sabalenka crowned first 'neutral' Grand Slam champion

Posted on AllSides January 28th, 2023
From The Center
REUTERS/Loren Elliott

With daring, resolve and a thunderous forehand, Aryna Sabalenka rose above geopolitical tumult to become the first player to claim a Grand Slam title as a neutral at the Australian Open.

The big-hitting Belarusian overhauled Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina 4-6 6-3 6-4 in the final at Rod Laver Arena on Saturday while barred from representing the eastern European nation.

Russian and Belarusian players are effectively "stateless" on the ATP and WTA tours, competing as individuals without national affiliation due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Had Rybakina not switched allegiance to Kazakhstan in...

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