Iga Swiatek hits the odds to become the next ‘tennis superstar’ | French Open 2022

A a few hours after Iga Swiatek consolidated her dominance with a second French Open title while blazing to a 35th consecutive victory in the race that never ends the exhausted champion of Poland, speaking from the corner of a tiny room, kicked his leg over the handle of his chair as she recounted the years that led up to her present. success.

“My journey from the beginning was basically what my father 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 deal with anything and telling us what to do. We had to choose our own path and we were really lucky that he made good decisions and I had good coaches at the beginning because, honestly, I didn’t have any system that could help us. “

Even when Swiatek showed her early promise as a youngster, it took a long time for her to believe that she could achieve the career she is currently building.

She may have been a perfectionist who always felt she could do better, but the lack of examples from her part of the world made such a success much harder to imagine.

“It was hard enough for me to believe that I would be the first in the world,” she said. “Because logically, when you take my country, how many people have succeeded, it was just Agnieszka. [Radwanska] essentially. My chances of becoming a tennis superstar were pretty small. I like math and my brain usually thinks about probabilities, so I felt like maybe it wasn’t certain and it would be hard to do. “

That insecurity drove the choices she made, most notably her decision to stay in school until she finished high school: “I always had a plan B,” she said.

“Even when I was 18, I still went to high school and I really focused on that. I felt like I was working on two jobs at the same time. Even in 2020, I still felt I needed a plan B if tennis didn’t work. “

This season began with one complete, extremely consistent world number one, Australian Ashleigh Barty, playing the best tennis of her career and tearing up the tour. Barty Swiatek has not lost a game since retiring.

That they have so narrowly missed each other in top form, and they have not been able to build a rivalry, must be the biggest missed opportunity in the recent history of the WTA.

Swiatek says Barty has written helpful to her many times since her retirement and, when asked if she wishes she could have tested her current game against Barty’s, she has never been more lively.

Iga Swiatek of Poland hits back against Coco Gauff of the United States in the women's singles final at the French Open.
Iga Swiatek has now won 35 consecutive matches. Photo: TPN / Getty Images

“I do,” she said. “I thought about it yesterday. I would love to be in better shape than when I played against her, just to have more variety and more skills and win against Ash. That would be great. “

The tennis season moves fast and on Monday the grass season begins, a new limit for Swiatek to conquer as she tries to extend her run. Swiatek actually won her only junior grand slam title at Wimbledon in 2018, but she still doesn’t highly value herself on the surface. She constantly reasoned that the conditions were slower that year.

“My coach believes I can win more matches on grass,” she said. “I don’t know about that yet. But I’d like to add like one or two. Yes, but honestly, grass is always hard. I actually like the part that I have no expectations there. It’s refreshing. ”

Swiatek is currently on the entry list for the Berlin WTA 500 tournament, which begins on June 13, but it seems unlikely she will play. When her views change to grass, she will prepare on a few lawns at a private club an hour and a half from Warsaw.

But for now, her priorities are clear. Watching her idol Rafael Nadal in the French Open final, she will spend as many days as possible without a tennis racket in her hands. “It simply came to our notice then [in April]”she said.” Then I came home like one night. It doesn’t really count. “

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