Elena Vesnina has made good on her pre-Olympic promise to ROC(k) us.
In the hunt for two medals this weekend, the reigning Olympic doubles champion will play for a second gold medal on her 35th birthday after she and countryman Aslan Karatsev edged past Novak Djokovic and Nina Stojanovic, 7-6 (4), 7-5.
“It was amazing to play against such a champion like Novak,” Vesnina told me on WhatsApp. “To beat him is an amazing achievement and makes being in the Olympic final all the more special. It’s an incredible feeling, and I still can’t believe it, but this has made every second of this comeback worth it."
The opportunity to play a fourth Olympic Games was the driving force behind her decision to end a 33-month maternity leave; in the five months since she first returned to action, Vesnina reached major finals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon—in mixed and women’s doubles, respectively—and roared into the medal rounds in both disciplines in addition to winning a maiden singles match over Jelena Ostapenko.