Elena Rybakina shuts down claims of her coach being 'aggressive' toward her

Over the last year, some have criticized coach Vukov over what they think is 'disrespectful' behavior toward Rybakina.

by Dzevad Mesic
Elena Rybakina shuts down claims of her coach being 'aggressive' toward her
© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

Elena Rybakina has come to coach Stefano Vukov's defense again, saying that some people are "overreacting" when judging her coach and absolutely misinterpreting their relationship.

Rybakina, 24, and coach Vukov have been collaborating since the start of the 2019 season. Since hiring Vukov in 2019 February, Rybakina has grown into one of the best players in the women's game. With Vukov, Rybakina became a Grand Slam champion at 2022 Wimbledon and he is also currently enjoying a career-high ranking of No. 3 in the world. 

While Vukov has undoubtedly done an outstanding job with Rybakina over the last few years, some still have an issue with coach Vukov. After Rybakina became a Grand Slam champion and one of the best players in the game, some started criticizing coach Vukov and claiming that he was "aggressive" toward Rybakina in his actions and body language. 

Over the last year, Rybakina has several times defended her coach. Personally, Rybakina thinks everything that coach Vukov does, is for her best. Also, Rybakina underlined that having a passionate and loud coach actually helps her, who is quite quiet and introverted. 

"This is I think a bad conclusion from the internet like he’s overreacting. I think he’s just trying to give me a lot of energy," Rybakina said in an interview from the 2023 WTA Finals that was posted by Canal+.

"We’re completely different personalities. I am calm. So sometimes I need to get emotions out and he’s trying just to help. I think the people try to find something which is not there."

Elena Rybakina and Stefano Vukov
Elena Rybakina and Stefano Vukov© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Rybakina defends coach Vukov: It works well because...

On the court, Rybakina does not show many emotions. Winning or losing, Rybakina barely shows anything on the court and rarely reacts to anything. 

While Rybakina is pretty quiet on the court, Vukov seems like an extroverted personality. In one of her recent interviews, Rybakina suggested that the contrast in their personalities made their partnership so successful. While stating that, Rybakina admitted that she can be stubborn at times and that probably prompts certain reactions from Vukov.

“He’s got a lot of energy, I will say, compared to other coaches. And I am super calm compared to other players. So I think we are both on the extreme sides and that’s why it works well,” Rybakina said at the World Tennis League in December.

“I can be tough. I don’t show it on the outside. Maybe people don’t see it, but of course I’m stubborn and I have my opinions. 

"So many times, he asks me something to do, and I don’t do it. So it’s kind of work in process but I think for now, we’ve been doing it really well already five years."

Elena Rybakina and Stefano Vukov
Elena Rybakina and Stefano Vukov© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Rybakina ripped a former Slam champion over her comments on Vukov

During last year's Australian Open, former 22-time Grand Slam champion in doubles Pam Shriver took to X, where she accused coach Vukov of disrespectfully treating Rybakina. 

During Rybakina's Australian Open semifinal win over Victoria Azarenka, Shriver wrote on X: "As I watch Rybakina try to win her second major in 7 months, I hope she finds a coach who speaks and treats her with respect at ALL times and does not ever accept anything less."

Shriver's post drew attention and led to several outlets writing negatively about coach Vukov. After her win over Azarenka and reaching her first Australian Open final, Rybakina noticed what was being written about her coach. 

Although Rybakina did not mention Shriver by her name, it was very clear that she was calling out the former American tennis player in her Instagram post. At the time, Rybakina made it clear that it was "a nonsense" to think that she was working with a coach who was disrespectful to her. 

"He is a passionate coach, with a lot of knowledge about tennis. Unlike people that are making these comments, he has great knowledge about me as a person and as an athlete. Those who know me well, will know that I would never accept a coach that didn’t respect me and all our hard work," Rybakina said in a message that was posted on her Instagram at the time.

"I may be quiet on court and in general, but inside me is a competitive athlete that wants to achieve great things and Stefano has helped me greatly in this way. So please disregard any fake news to the contrary."

Elena Rybakina and Stefano Vukov
Elena Rybakina and Stefano Vukov© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

Meanwhile, Rybakina disappointingly lost early at Melbourne Park this year. After finishing as runner-up at last year's Australian Open, Rybakina suffered a shock second-round exit in Melbourne this year.

In the second round, Rybakina missed out on six match points before world No. 57 Anna Blinkova realized her 10th match point to upset the Kazakh 6-4 4-6 7-6 (20). That match was historic as their 42-point tie-break was the longest at the Grand Slam level in tennis history. 

Rybakina's next scheduled tournament is the Abu Dhabi Open, which starts on February 5th.

Elena Rybakina