Iga Swiatek has dismissed the narrative that she “is the good one in tennis and Aryna Sabalenka is the bad one” as the Pole insisted “we have great respect for each other and are kind to each other”.
Four-time Grand Slam champion Swiatek and reigning Australian Open winner Sabalenka were involved in an intense on-court rivalry this year as their battle for the year-end No 1 ranking went down to the wire.
Swiatek led the way in the WTA Rankings up until the US Open before the Belarusian replaced her at No 1 after the final Grand Slam of the year at Flushing Meadows. However, the Pole finished the year at the top after she won the WTA Finals.
The duo were respectful to each other throughout the campaign, but some fans depicted Swiatek as the “good one” while Sabalenka was portrayed as the “bad one”.
Asked during an interview with Poland’s Rzeczpospolita newspaper about the narrative, Swiatek replied: “I see that Poles don’t really like her. We simply have two completely different personalities colliding. You can see the contrast.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a good character and she’s a bad one, because that puts her in a negative light. We are just different. I don’t want to be one of those people who judges.
“I know what life is like on the Internet and I don’t want to contribute to hatred towards anyone. First of all, we have great respect for each other and are kind to each other.”
The world No 1 also addressed concerns over the growing calendar and controversial late scheduling of matches.
Several tennis players – on both the ATP and WTA Tours – have criticised the powers that be over for scheduling matches late at night with some often finishing in the early hours of the following day.
“There is room for improvement. As players, we are dissatisfied with the calendar for next year and the increase in the number of mandatory tournaments and restrictions related to withdrawing from them. We want to change this,” Swiatek said.
“We need more balance and time to get back home. Sometimes, however, we beat our heads against the wall. Some decisions seem to be the result of promises made to third parties, federations and tournament organizers.
“We find out about them after the fact. This causes frustration. Only a handful of players were aware of the calendar reform and the WTA cannot lead to such a situation again, since it considers itself an organisation created for tennis players.”