Iga SwiatekPolish Tennis Player
Iga Swiatek is a Polish tennis player. She won her first Grand Slam title at the French Open when she was 19 years old in October 2020.
• Date of birth: 31 May 2001
• Age: 20 years old
• Place of birth: Warsaw, Poland
• Residence: Raszyn, Poland
• Nationality: Polish
• Height: 176cm / 5ft 9ins
• Plays: Right-handed
• Turned Pro: 2016
• Prize Money: US$ 4,639,553
Born in Warsaw, Poland in 2001, Swiatek initially started out as a swimmer but switched to playing tennis, opting to follow in the footsteps of her older sister into the sport.
After briefly competing on the ITF junior circuit in 2013, she made her professional debut three years later and won her first three titles when she was just 15 years old.
She made her debut on the WTA Tour in 2019 and made her first tour-level final that year at the Ladies Open Lugano.
At the rescheduled French Open in the autumn of 2020, Swiatek claimed the singles crown to win her first major title despite starting the tournament ranked as number 54 in the world.
So, how much do you know about Swiatek’s journey to becoming the talented tennis player she is today? This is her story.
Early Life, Parents And Upbringing
Swiatek was born in Warsaw, Poland on 31 May 2001 to parents Dorota and Tomasz. Her father Tomasz is a former professional rower who competed in the men’s quadruple sculls event at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. Her Dorota mother is an orthodontist.
Her father Tomasz was keen for his daughters Iga and Agata, who is about three years older, to become professional athletes – but he preferred that they focused on individual sports rather than team sports to boost their chances of success.
Initially, Iga showed promise as a swimmer but tennis soon took over and she admits that it was a much better fit for her.
“I was scared of water so tennis was much better for me,” Swiatek said at the 2021 Australian Open.
Iga, who trained at Mera Warsaw as a 14-year-old before later moving to sports club Legia Warsaw, revealed that her father was always a big fan of tennis and dreamed that her daughters would play the sport professionally one day.
“My father always liked tennis and he wanted his daughter to play,” Iga said back in 2019. “It was his idea. My older sister was playing. She’s three years older and I always wanted to be like her. I was always competing with her when I was younger and I always lost, so that was very motivating for me.
“I guess I was really competitive. It wasn’t just about tennis. If I would swim or do anything, I was always going to be competitive. I guess I liked it because I was good at it. It was natural for me. And I always wanted to beat my sister. Sorry, sister!”
As a youngster, Swiatek would play lots of tennis but admits that she didn’t follow the sport much herself. Her perspective changed at the 2016 French Open, when she arrived at the Grand Slam to compete in the junior tournament.
“When I came here [Paris] two years ago, it was my first Grand Slam juniors,” she explains. “It was overwhelming. When I saw the people and the atmosphere, it was really great, and I thought I wanted to do it for real. Because when I was younger I didn’t have an obsession with tennis. I didn’t watch any matches, I was just playing.
“But when I came to the Grand Slam it totally changed and I realised that it was a cool way to have a life.”
Asked to describe her brand of tennis, Swiatek has said: “A big serve, topspin, and backhand down the line.”
Swiatek showed lots of promise as a junior and began competing on the ITF Junior Circuit in 2015, winning titles in April and May of that year when she was just 13 years old.
She made her junior Grand Slam debut at the 2016 French Open and impressed in Paris as she reached the quarter-finals in both the singles and the doubles.
In 2018, Swiatek sealed her first junior Grand Slam title in the doubles at the French Open with partner Caty McNally of America.
Later that year, she finally tasted singles junior Grand Slam success at Wimbledon. She won her first match at SW19 against top seed Whitney Osuigwe in three sets and then did not drop another set en route to winning the title, defeating Switzerland’s Leonie Kung in the final.
Swiatek made her WTA Tour debut in 2019 when she qualified for the Australian Open in Melbourne. She beat Romania’s Ana Bogdan to reach the second round, where she lost to Italy’s Camila Giorgi.
At the 2019 Ladies Open Lugano, Swiatek reached her first WTA Tour level final, where she lost to Slovenia’s Polona Hercog in three sets.
At the French Open that year, Swiatek continued to make progress as she reached the fourth round of the tournament in Paris. She lost in the first and second rounds of Wimbledon and the US Open in 2019. Nevertheless, her progress in 2019 meant that she broke into the world’s top 50 for the first time.
Swiatek enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2020, despite the campaign being punctuated by the coronavirus pandemic. She reached the fourth round of the Australian Open before the season was put on hold due to Covid-19.
When tennis did resume, she reached the third round of the US Open in New York, losing to eventual finalist Victoria Azarenka.
French Open Title And Further Progress
The 2020 French Open was rescheduled to September and October because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was to be a breakthrough tournament for Swiatek.
She began the tournament ranked number 54 in the world and defeated the likes of Marketa Vondrousova and Simona Halep en route to the final. She then beat American Sofia Kenin in the final to win her maiden Grand Slam and tour level title.
In doing so, she became the first Polish player to win a Grand Slam singles title – and, at 19 years old, also became the youngest singles champion at the tournament since Rafael Nadal back in 2005.
“It is crazy. Two years ago I won a junior Grand Slam and now I’m here,” she said after the match. “It feels like such a short time. I’m so overwhelmed.”
At the start of 2021, Iga reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and won her first WTA tour title at Adelaide, beating Belinda Bencic in the final.
She was beaten by Maria Sakkari in the quarter-finals of the 2021 French Open and lost to Ons Jabeur in the fourth round at Wimbledon. At the US Open, she reached the fourth round, where she lost to Bencic.
Life Away From The Court
Swiatek enjoys reading books and listening to music in her spare time, and she admits that she has a “big obsession” with the latter.
“In free time I read books and listen to music,” she says. “I have a big obsession with music. I have a type of music for every mood, but I love rock.
“I love Pink Floyd. If I have a mood for Pop, I like ABBA. I also like Coldplay, Florence and the Machine, Santana. And if I want something more aggressive, AC/DC gets me in the mood. I’ve been listening to Thunderstruck before the matches. And I’m watching The Office, the US version.”
Asics, Red Bull and Lexus are among the brands in her endorsement portfolio. She employs a sports psychologist, Daria Abramowicz, to travel with her on tour.
What Have Others Said?
Three times Grand Slam champion Andy Murray took to social media to praise Swiatek in the summer of 2021, and the Polish player was quick to ask the Brit if they could take part in a practice session.
Naomi Osaka has also spoken of her admiration for Swiatek in the past.
“I would say I was really inspired by Iga,” said Osaka in January 2021. “I thought it was really amazing how she was able to be super focused in all her matches [at the 2020 French Open]. I was watching the finals.
“I thought it was really nice to watch because I ate dinner with her last year here. She was talking about how she might go to college. I was telling her, like, she’s really good, and I think she’s going to do really well, so maybe don’t try to divert your energy to college just yet. I’m glad she was able to win a Grand Slam so fast. Hopefully she’ll continue to grow, which I know she will.”