Iga Swiatek is the Rising Star of Women’s Tennis (By Marissa Kasch)
Tennis stars really are like us. In a recent BBC interview, Iga Swiatek describes her ideal night: “Doing my laundry, cleaning my room, sleeping in my own bed, chatting with my family during breakfast or dinner and meeting with my friends.”
Swiatek has earned a stunningly quick rise to the top at a very young age, and her recent French Open victory is just the beginning for the 21-year-old. She has a plethora of awards and accolades to her name and has pioneered many “firsts”. In a shock to tennis fans around the world, Swiatek has eclipsed Serena Williams’s record for most consecutive matches won (35) and has tied Venus Williams. She also became the youngest player to be ranked in the top 10 and the first Polish individual to win a Grand Slam.
Despite these spectacular accomplishments, she acknowledges she has been living a very fast life and plans to ease into a slower pace temporarily. In her BBC interview, she told the public that she had a quiet night in following her French Open victory over competitor Coco Gauff. She did not go out and celebrate, but said, “I didn’t need a lot to be happy after this final.”
Iga’s rise to stardom has been nothing short of sensational and deliberate, with no stone left unturned. Her training, rest, stress-level, and positive outlook are all accounted for and monitored by herself and her mental health coach, Daria Abramowicz, whom she has attributed much her success to.
Many athletes tend to focus solely on physical training and practice, but if Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles have taught us anything this past year, it’s that the mental aspect of the game and mental training are equally as important. Part of Swiatek’s immense success can be attributed to her calm and collected attitude as well as her unwavering optimism. In sessions with her mental health coach, there is an emphasis on maintaining composure both on and off of the court.
Daria Abramowicz says she takes an unconventional approach to sports psychology and mental health coaching in an interview with The New York Times. Abramowicz emphasizes the importance of fostering relationships with friends and family, making time for hobbies, and focusing on personal growth. These may seem unorthodox for a sports psychologist to be telling her athlete, but Abramowicz says, “It is impossible to become a champion when you don’t have a fundamental joy and your needs fulfilled and satisfied as a human being.”
Clearly, this approach is working like a well-oiled machine for Swiatek, as she continues to be trailblazer in women’s tennis and in the sports world in its entirety. Abramowicz does not allow Swiatek to participate in anything that has the potential to shake her emotional stability. She even went as far as to prevent Swiatek from reading the end of “Gone With the Wind” on the day of a match to preserve her emotional state. Swiatek’s emotional stability both on and off the court help her to train physically and mentally to the best of her ability, which is undeniably reflected through her many victories.
Iga’s athletic pedigree has also bolstered her success and her passion for tennis. Rowing, swimming, paddleboarding, tennis, you name it, the Swiatek family has done it. Iga’s sister started as a swimmer but transitioned to tennis and made a name for herself early in her career. Unfortunately, she sustained multiple injuries and gave up tennis. Nevertheless, Iga was inspired by her sister and her father to play tennis.
Iga’s father was an Olympic rower, competing in the men’s quadruple sculls event in the Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea in 1988. He constantly encouraged Iga and her sister, Agata, to play a competitive sport in which they could succeed. To this day, Iga thanks her father for her success. After winning the French Open, Swiatek said about her father, “He taught me how to be a professional in sports. He also taught me how to be confident on the court.”
Iga’s sister and father were among her biggest influences, along with her favorite player, Rafael Nadal — the men’s winner of the French Open. Swiatek has modeled her playing style after that of Nadal, staying aggressive on the court. She takes control of each match aggressively with a serve averaging 103 mph and her drop shot which won the 2019 WTA shot of the year.
Two years ago, she was the runner-up for the “Athlete of the Year” award in her home country of Poland, behind popular Polish soccer player Robert Lewandowski. Swiatek was both surprised and honored to see Lewandowski at a match in Paris, which showed her the extent of her own fame.
With all eyes on Swiatek as Wimbledon approaches next month, few skeptics remain. She has proven her talent and character through her quick rise to greatness. Will she shatter Venus’s record at Wimbledon? Will she find a new record to break? With Iga Swiatek, anything is possible. The rising star of women’s tennis is here to stay.