Pandemic Helped Swiatek Deal With French Open Success

February 25, 2021 Updated: February 25, 2021

French Open champion Iga Swiatek says the COVID-19 pandemic has been beneficial for her as the restrictions allowed the 19-year-old from Poland to settle into her life as a first-time Grand Slam winner.

Swiatek went from being a largely unknown teenager to acquiring celebrity status when she became the youngest woman to win the French Open since Monica Seles in 1992 and the first to do so without dropping a set since Justine Henin in 2007.

“I didn’t see like a lot of people around, because at that time we had many restrictions and it was impossible to get like big gatherings,” Swiatek told reporters on Thursday after reaching the semi-final at the Adelaide International.

“But I can see like a lot of support, like by media and TV and I feel like people really saw me for the first time and I gained popularity.

“So it was actually good that the pandemic is here, because it was really good for me and I could try to learn how to deal with it step by step. It’s going to be probably different when the pandemic is over, but I have this experience now.”

Iga Swiatek_French open
Poland’s Iga Swiatek holds the trophy after winning the final match of the French Open tennis tournament against Sofia Kenin of the U.S. in two sets 6-4, 6-1, at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, on Oct. 10, 2020. (Christophe Ena/File/AP Photo)

Swiatek, who is ranked 18th, had earlier said she was finding it tough to deal with the weight of expectation at the Australian Open following her Roland Garros triumph.

The 14-day mandatory quarantine upon arrival in Melbourne ahead of the year’s first Grand Slam also helped her.

“Actually, I feel like the quarantine in Australia was the first time I could like probably chill out and not worry about everything that’s been going on after French Open,” said Swiatek after her opponent Danielle Collins retired with a lower back injury while trailing 6-2 3-0.

“So I think I needed that time and I’m really happy that I won such a tournament actually at the end of the season.”

By Sudipto Ganguly