JOHN McENROE was not afraid to say what everyone was thinking before the Duchess of Cambridge handed over the Wimbledon trophy to a Russia-born winner.
As Patron of the All England Club, Kate was in charge of the presentation ceremony following the ladies’ singles final.
And with Elena Rybakina coming from behind to beat Ons Jabeur 3-6 6-2 6-2, Wimbledon’s biggest fears came true.
Rybakina, 23, was born and raised in Moscow and it is believed both her and her parents still live in the Russian capital – even though she switched allegiance to Kazakhstan in 2018 to receive their tennis federation’s funding.
So the fact she plays under the Kazakhstani flag – with a Kazakhstani passport – meant she was allowed to enter Wimbledon, who banned all Russian and Belarusian stars due to the invasion of Ukraine.
That prompted the ATP and WTA stripping ranking points from the grass-court Grand Slam, which in turn helped Russian Daniil Medvedev tighten his grip at the top of the men’s rankings.
World No23 Rybakina then blitzed through the tournament, dropping just two sets in her seven matches, to lift her maiden Grand Slam – and become the first Kazakhstani player, male or female, to win a major.
The Duchess was all smiles and professional as ever, congratulating Rybakina on the victory and giving her the Venus Rosewater dish on Cente Court.
But straight-talking McEnroe refused to hide away from the obvious irony of the future queen and a Russia-born Wimbledon champion, who pockets £2million in prize money.
He said on BBC TV: “I don’t mean to get into politics but she’s Russian.
“Her parents live in Moscow.”
Host Sue Barker – presenting her final Wimbledon after 30 years – tried to play down the comments by referencing Greg Rusedski’s switch from Canada to Great Britain.
But social media piled in with a whole host of posts referencing the same twist of fate, including a picture of Rybakina in a Russia tracksuit.
One said: “It’s funny you ban individual Russian players from competing, yet a Russian wins the title.”
Another wrote: “How fun is that a Moscow-born girl won the Russian-Free Wimbledon.”
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A third added: “I guess banning russian players didn’t work!
And a final user commented: “The irony that Russians were banned and a Russian ended up winning the women’s title.”
Speaking on court after her win, Rybakina – who barely celebrated or even smiled – said: “To be a winner is just amazing, I don’t have the words to say how happy I am. I wouldn’t be here without my team.
“I appreciate him (the Kazakhstan tennis president) coming to support me in the semi-final and final, it’s unbelievable support.
“I want to say a big thanks to my whole team — the most important is my parents of course but they are not here.
“I am very sorry. My sister is here. Without my parents, I wouldn’t be here.”