a A few hours after Iga Swiatek consolidated her dominance with a second French Open title as she shines for a 35th straight win in the weary Polish champion’s endless race, as he speaks from the corner of a small room, kicking her leg over the handle of her chair as she recounts the years that led to her current success.
“My journey from the start was basically what my dad thought was the best,” Swiatek said. “He made really good choices, really bad choices sometimes, but it wasn’t like I had 10 people around me telling us how to handle anything and telling us what to do. We had to choose our own path, and for sure we were really lucky that he made some Good decisions and I had good coaches in the beginning because, frankly, I didn’t have any system that could help us.”
Even when Swiatek offered her early promise as a young girl, it took her a long time for her to believe that she could fulfill the career that she is currently building.
She may have strived for perfection and always felt she could do better, but the dearth of examples from the part of the world she lives in has made that success even more difficult to imagine.
“It was very hard for me to believe that I would be No. 1 in the world,” she said. “Because logical reasoning, when you take my country, how many people have succeeded, it was only Agnieszka [Radwanska] on the principle. The possibility of becoming a tennis star was very slim. I love math and my brain usually thinks of possibilities, so I felt like maybe it was unsure and it would be difficult to achieve.”
Insecurity drove the choices she made, most notably her decision to stay in school until she finished high school: “I’ve always had a Plan B,” she says.
“Even when I was 18, I still went to high school and was really focused on that. It felt like working two jobs at once. Even in 2020, I still feel like I need a plan B in case tennis doesn’t work out.”
The season started with one complete and very consistent World No. 1, Australian Ashleigh Barty, playing the best tennis of her career and tearing up the tour. Since Barty’s retirement, Swiatek has not lost a match.
The biggest missed opportunity in recent WTA history must have been a wasted because they mistook each other at their best, unable to build a competition.
Swiatek says Barty has messaged her supportively several times since her retirement, and when asked if she’d like to test her current game against Barty’s, she’s never been more lively.
She said, “I do.” “I was thinking about it yesterday. I would like to be in better shape than when I was playing against her, just have more versatility and more ability and win against Ash. That would be great.”
Tennis season moves quickly and turf season begins on Monday, a new front Swiatek invades as she tries to extend her streak. Swiatek actually won her only Junior Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2018 but hasn’t rate herself highly on the surface yet. I have consistently considered that conditions were slower that year.
“My coach believes that I can win more matches on grass,” she said. “I don’t know about that yet. But I would like to add like one or two. Yeah, but honestly, grass is always tough. I actually like the part where I don’t have expectations there. It’s kind of refreshing.”
Swiatek is currently on the entry list for the Berlin WTA 500 tournament, which begins on June 13, but it seems unlikely that she will play. When her eyes turn to the grass, she will gear up on two grass pitches in a private club an hour and a half from Warsaw.
But for now, her priorities are clear. After watching her favorite star Rafael Nadal in the French Open final, she will spend as many days as possible without a tennis racket on her hands. “It would be the best thing for me because I’ve been on tour since the FA Cup [in April]She said. “Then I came home for like one night. It doesn’t really matter.”