Iga Swiatek delivers heartbreaking update on price of tennis fame

Following Ash Barty’s shock retirement in March 2022, Iga Swiatek quickly became the dominant force in women’s tennis. She has won three Grand Slams over the last 18 months and held the number ranking up until she was eliminated from the US Open earlier in September.

The Pole made plenty of history during her scintillating run and has become a superstar of the game. But being a professional athlete comes with making sacrifices, one of which is the loss of privacy, something the 22-year-old has admitted struggling with.

‟People recognize me almost everywhere. It’s difficult for me to live in peace and quiet,” Swiatek told tennismagazin.de.

Swiatek added to her French Open win in 2020 by claiming the title again in 2022, before successfully defending the trophy in June of this year.

Last September the Pole won her first major away from the clay courts by defeating Ons Jabeur to win the US Open. But after failing to defend her title at Flushing Meadows, Aryna Sabalenka replaced her as the top-ranked women’s player.

The Polish star spent an incredible 75 weeks as the World No. 1 and just fell just short of making it into the top 10 list of players with the most consecutive weeks at No.1 following her round-of-16 exit in New York.

She still holds claim to becoming the first Polish No.1 in tennis history. Reflecting on her time at the top of the game and the constant pressure she was under, Swiatek said: “Last 1.5 years was a time of observing and experiencing how much people talk and write about ‘defending’, ‘defense’ – of titles, ranking position, points.

“I was surprised sometimes to start to think this way because of this. But… I don’t need to defend anything and this is a good moment to write down some thoughts. For me, sport is a cycle of constant changes exactly like in everyday life, we can either win or lose – that’s it, it’s so simple.

“New season, next tournament, new opportunities to GAIN, ACHIEVE, not defend something. Clean slate.” Swiatek left many of her opponents bewildered at the speed and power with which she plays.

Her ability to take charge of the rally almost instantly and dominate helped her go on to register a 37-match winning streak in 2022, the longest on the WTA Tour in the 21st century. Despite being usurped at the top of the women’s rankings and suffering several losses in battles during the summer US hard court swing, Swiatek is confident that there will be many more opportunities for her to build on her success.

“But I stick to my mindset: when I work hard, I’m developing myself and doing my job, I will create many more chances to WIN, to ACHIEVE my goals and not to defend,” she said. “The way to do it is to constantly focus on my high standards in what I do and learn from the best in this sport and from my team.”

Swiatek is next in action at the Japan Open, with her campaign set to begin on Wednesday.


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