By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
The 19 year old Iga Swiatek is a Grand Slam Champion. Just a week ago Swiatek was unsure whether she would commit to tennis long term or go to university. Now the girl from Poland who have never won a tour event before is a Grand Slam champion – the lowest-ranked woman to ever win the French Open.
“I wasn’t expecting to win this trophy,” the Pole said after her dominant 6-4 6-1 win over American fourth seed Sofia Kenin in Saturday’s final.
“It’s obviously amazing for me. It’s a life-changing experience.
“I just feel like I kind of made history.”
IGA Swiatek new French Open champion – Some unknown facts about the champion
– Swiatek, who did not drop a set in the tournament, is the first player from Poland to win a Grand Slam singles title
– Swiatek is the youngest French Open women’s champion since Monica Seles in 1992.
– She has won the Wimbledon junior title in 2018
– She has never won a tour-level tournament before victory in Paris.
– Her father Tomasz is former rower who competed at the 1988 Olympics.
– Swiatek listens to rock music such as Guns N’ Roses before matches
– Last year she competed at Roland Garros for the first time and while doing so was juggling schoolwork for her studies back in Poland
– Swiatek is now the lowest-ranked women’s singles champion in Roland-Garros history
Where the more seasoned and media-trained champions might quickly reel off a list of many sponsors by name, tournament organisers and team members, Swiatek meandered and said she hoped her cat had been watching at home.
“First of all, I’m not very good at speeches because I won my last tournament two years ago and I don’t know who to thank,” she said, before adding “should I say something else?” soon after.
One person she did thank was her father, Tomasz, a former rower who competed at the 1988 Olympics. It was he who encouraged Swiatek and her older sister Agata to pursue tennis, having initially failed to get them to take up swimming.
“I was calling her semi-pro in the past, because she was at school. She was studying like a regular person,” her coach Piotr Sierzputowski said.
“The tennis wasn’t the biggest part of her life.
“I had to schedule practice in the morning at seven because she had to go to the school.”
And nor, it seems, is she a conventional teen – she admits switching off her phone for the past few days. A deep thinker, Swiatek employs a psychologist as a permanent part of her team – also a rare thing on tour.
Maths is the teenager’s favourite subject and she has said it helps her game, allowing her to “see the geometry of the court”.
Before her fourth-round match this year, a 6-1 6-2 dismantling of tournament favourite and former champion Simona Halep, Swiatek described the current phase of her life as “two gap years”, not ruling out the possibility of leaving the sport to further her education.
“If I am going to be top 10 and I am going to be fighting for Grand Slams, then for sure I am not going to have time for university,” she said.
“But if I am still top 100 for a few more years, then probably, I am going to go to university.”
A top-20 debut is in the offing for the 19-year-old.
Swiatek, whose ranking previously peaked at 48 on February 3rd of 2020, is projected to jump 37 spots to No.17 in the world in Monday’s WTA rankings, and will surpass Coco Gauff to become the highest-ranked teenager on tour at the moment.
Swiatek started 2019 ranked at 175 in the world, and had just cracked the top 300 for the first time a little over two years ago.