Usually, when a monarch is crowned, cannon shots punctuate the celebration. In Paris, a few claps of thunder served for the coronation of Iga Swiatek, Saturday, June 4. While across the Channel a crowned head celebrates her platinum jubilee this weekend, the young Pole has established herself as queen of her discipline. Winner of the young American Cori Gauff in the final (6-1, 6-3) in just over an hour of play, the world number one won the Parisian Grand Slam tournament for the second time.
Landing at the Porte d’Auteuil with the favorite sign, Iga Swiatek took on the weight. She, who had won the fall 2020 edition – pandemic obliges – to everyone’s surprise did not advance in the shadows this time. “I’ve worked hard to be able to win again here. It was difficult, the pressure was huge,” admitted the Pole after the Suzanne-Lenglen cup was lifted.
“In 2020, I felt confused because I didn’t really think I could win a Grand Slam,” Iga Swiatek said at a press conference. But this was different: it’s pure work. All the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. »
Not to be one of the – very many – queens without a future of women’s tennis, the Polish rolled up her sleeves after her first coronation. She is reaping the rewards two years later.
“Something better than Serena Williams”
“I don’t think I played anyone playing better tennis than Iga today,” Cori Gauff said after her loss. “She was just too strong. She does everything very well on the court. »
For the young American, only the Australian Ashleigh Barty rivaled the Pole in terms of intensity and level of play. But since the winner of the last Australian Open chose to abdicate, and put away her rackets in the spring (at age 25), Swiatek regained the world number one crown. And spread its wings, like the “Orzel bialy”, the white eagle that adorns the coat of arms of Poland.
Since February 22, the native of Warsaw has not lost a single match. Saturday, she chained a thirty-fifth success in a row, equaling the record of the American Venus Williams – but still far from the absolute record, held by the American Martina Navratilova and her 74 victories in a row between 1983 and 1984.
“What I’m most proud of is doing something better than Serena [Williams],” the player smiled. The American with 23 Grand Slam titles has not exceeded 34 victories in a row. “In tennis, breaking records after Serena is almost impossible. »
On Saturday, the Polish girl left little hope for her young opponent. Iga Swiatek has sometimes mentioned a female counterpart to Rafael Nadal – whom she continues to adore. Her hard topspin forehands left Cori Gauff helpless, and the Pole turned into a steamroller, asphyxiating her opponent. “Even when I was able to chain the punches, she wouldn’t let anything get through. There’s a reason she’s been on this winning streak,” Gauff admitted.
If the storm rumbled in the distance, just before the end of the game, the thunder came out of Iga Swiatek’s racket. “[Iga] is dynamite on the pitch. When you have dynamite, you can’t play defensive, “said his coach Tomasz Wiktorowski, interviewed by AFP after the meeting. For the one who has led the world number one since the offseason and has chosen to focus on its strengths, assures him, “this is only the beginning of this adventure”.
She now lives in the costume of world number 1
Last year, Iga Swiatek ran into Rafael Nadal at breakfast at the hotel, the day after Mallorca lost in the semi-final against Novak Djokovic. “I told him I cried all night,” the player said Sunday. But he replied: ‘It’s just a tennis match, you know, you win, you lose, that’s life'” The Polish hopes to be inspired by “this detachment that the greats have champions like him.” In view of the way she negotiated her finals, she grasped the essence of it.
Because since 2020, there is a general truth in tennis: Iga Swiatek does not lose, once reached the final. On Saturday, the Pole won her ninth final in as many tournaments – without losing a single set. “I try to approach them like any game,” the player said, acknowledging that it’s not easy. I am also aware that my opponents will be stressed, and I try to be a little less than them. »
The player has acknowledged this, she feels “ready for what’s to come next”. The solicitations, the pressure, she has prepared for it, and now lives in her world number one costume. At the end of her speech, cup in hand, the young woman wanted to “say a few words for Ukraine”, triggering a standing ovation. The one who plays all her matches with a small Ukrainian flag pinned to her cap explains that by taking the lead in the WTA rankings (which governs the women’s circuit), she “felt a kind of injunction to speak up”, so tries she likes to wear “subjects that are really close to my heart. »
During the tournament, Iga Swiatek attacked the reading of The Three Musketeers. Unlike her celerity on the court, this great reader – who recounts the progress of her readings over the course of the circuit, transforming certain press conferences into improvised book clubs – admitted to “moving slowly” in the work of ‘Alexandre Dumas.
The player, whose shoes bear the mention “team Swiatek”, and who rushed to the stands – as in 2020 – as soon as the match point was played to hug her loved ones, continues to consider tennis as a team sport . New queen of her discipline, Iga Swiatek hardly needs a close guard of musketeers to defend her. But right now, “all for one” might become his motto.