WATCH: Rybakina had already made history for Kazakhstan by becoming its first Grand Slam semifinalist after defeating Ajla Tomljanovic on Wednesday.

Elena Rybakina fulfilled her pre-pandemic potential on Thursday, stunning 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, 6-3, 6-3 to reach her first Grand Slam final at SW19.

"I was quite nervous before in the moment when I was close already finish the match," Rybakina explained in press. "But I would say that today I really felt solid in my game and I think I did everything good."

The No. 17 seed snapped Halep’s 12-match Wimbledon winning streak—a run that featured 21 straight sets—to book a historic final against Ons Jabeur where the two will face off for a maiden major title after knocking out the former world No. 1 in one hour and 15 minutes on Centre Court.

Born in Moscow, Rybakina joined the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation in 2018 and showed immense promise to start the 2020 season, winning 21 of her first 25 matches and reaching four WTA finals before the pandemic halted her momentum.

"After corona, after this long period, it was very difficult to come back," she recalled. During pandemic, I didn't practice at all. It wasn't easy. Then some health problems like injuries, sick, allergies. It kept on happening. I was, like, very upset, of course.

"My coach was always telling me that, 'You don't have to wait when you're going to be in the perfect shape. You going to win no matter how you feel. You just need to keep working and keep improving.'"

She would go on to reach her first major quarterfinal last spring with a win over 23-time major champion Serena Williams and became the first Kazakh player to reach a Grand Slam semifinal when she defeated Ajla Tomljanovic in three sets on Wednesday.


Of course I'm going to be nervous. Everybody probably nervous when they are going to play on Centre Court and if it's a final. But it's a challenge for me to be stable, to be strong mentally, and try to do my best. Elena Rybakina

Halep was the only major champion left in women’s draw by the quarterfinal stage, and after missing Wimbledon due to Injury in 2021, she appeared poised to roll to a third Grand Slam victory thanks to thudding wins over Paula Badosa and Amanda Anisimova.

Rybakina, who had narrowly lost to the Romanian in their last two meetings—including a 2021 US Open third-round thriller—had to outhit the likes of former Top 10 players CoCo Vandeweghe and Bianca Andreescu just to reach the second week, but was in fine form by the time she faced Halep, winning the first three games and sealing the first set behind 12 winners to just six unforced errors.

"On the previous matches, I had many ups and downs moments," Rybakina said. "But today, even if I lost some points, I was really focused. In the end I'm really happy with my result. I think it's good improvement for me."

Halep’s struggles on serve began early when she threw in an ill-timed double fault to hand Rybakina a break point opportunity, and they continued early in the second set as she fell behind another break.

"I improved a lot in my serve the last three months," a frustrated Halep said after the match. "But today I feel like I went back to my normal one. Many double-faults and too soft.

"Definitely if I would have had a better serve today, would have been better."

The lone wobble came when Rybakina served up 2-1: known for her implacable demeanor and impressive ace count—striking 217 heading into the finals to become the WTA tour’s resident Ace Queen—a rare flash of frustration crossed her face as she found herself broken to love.

Still, Halep couldn’t capitalize as her own serve continued to fail her, ending the match with a paltry 52% first serve percentage.

Rybakina continued to press, striking a clean, flat ball that reverberated through Centre Court, striking a total of 21 winners to 16 unforced errors as she edged within a game of victory.

A ninth double fault erased Halep’s game point as she served to stay in the match and Rybakina stepped in on a powerful forehand to force a first match point, which she cooly converted.

"I mean, I'm smiling," said Rybakina. "I really don't know how I'm going to react because I believe in myself. We worked a lot with my team to get through. Of course, no one expected that it's going to be this week at Wimbledon. But this is something we worked a lot. Everybody believed in me in my team.

"I don't know how I'm going to react. We see tomorrow, after tomorrow, yeah."

She will next face Jabeur in what will be the biggest match of either of their careers: Jabeur leads their head-to-head 2-1, though the pair have split their completed matches with two three-setters on hard courts.

"I remember I met Ons first time I think when we were playing WTA maybe 125K. I came for the first time with my dad and I met her. She was very nice to help me to find the club because she had a car. I remember how I met Ons.

"What she achieved already, it's happening, like, in front of my eyes. We are going, like, together in this journey. I think it's just amazing to think that you are making history."