Poland’s contribution in the Tennis world is next to negligible. Jerzy Janowicz reached the semi-final of the 2013 Wimbledon championship. Since then, there has not been a trace of the player. In 2019, Hubert Hurkacz reached the third round of Wimbledon in 2019. That has been the only notable contributions for Poland in Tennis. But, in 2020, a year when everything changed, this stat also underwent a major transformation.
The French Open was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was played around September after the end of the US Open. From its traditional slot in May-June, this was a shock for many players. It was also the first time that floodlights would debut in the French Open. When so much had changed, it was fitting that one achievement on court would also change.
In the men’s section, Rafael Nadal made it business as usual as he defeated Novak Djokovic in straight sets to win a record 13th French Open title. But, in the women’s section, history was about to be created.
In the fourth round of the women’s side of the draw, Simona Halep was taking on Poland’s Iga Swiatek. The match tipped Halep to be the favorite. She was the world number two and heading into the match, she had a 17-match winning streak. Iga Swiatek was seeded number 54. In their previous encounter, Halep had dumped Swiatek out in the fourth round.
Now, a year later, Swiatek extracted revenge as she dumped the French Open favorite out with a commanding 6-1,6-2 win. Swiatek had a dominating performance throughout the tournament. In the final, she took on number six Sofia Kenin, who had won the Australian Open in 2020.
Swiatek put on a complete performance and defeated Kenin 6-4,6-1. The 19-year-old thus created history. Swiatek became the lowest-ranked player to win the French Open since rankings were introduced in 1975. She became the lowest-ranked player to win a Grand Slam title since Sloane Stephens won the 2017 US Open. The Polish teenager also became the first player, male or female, to win a Grand Slam singles title from the country.
Winning a French Open singles title at 19 years and four months of age made Swiatek the youngest woman to do so since Monica Seles in 1992. Swiatek did not drop a set throughout the entire tournament, becoming the first player since Justine Henin in 2007 to win the French Open without dropping a set. Additionally, she did not lose more than four games in any set. Swiatek did not lose more than five games in any match. Her tally of dropping only 28 games throughout the tournament in total was the fewest since Steffi Graf dropped 20 games in 1988. This became the first French Open where both the men’s and women’s singles champions did not drop a set on their way to the title.
The French Open title triumph was a huge boost for Swiatek, who hailed from a sporting family. Swiatek’s father Tomasz was an Olympic rower. As a junior, she was the 2018 French Open girls’ doubles champion alongside Caty McNally,. Swiatek also became the 2018 Wimbledon girls’ singles champion. She also led Poland to the Junior Fed Cup crown in 2016 and won a doubles gold medal for Poland at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics with Slovenian Kaja Juvan.
Ever since the French Open triumph, she won the WTA title in Adelaide without dropping a set. Her first WTA 1000 title came in Italy. It was her consistency that ensured she broke into the top 10 in 2021. In the current rankings, she is currently number nine in the world. Heading into the French Open, she will have tremendous confidence. Another win will ensure that Swiatek becomes Poland’s ultimate Tennis pioneer.