World number 1 Iga Swiatek has opened up on various controversial issues in the game, including her belief that women are not given the same respect as male players.
In an interview with Polish media outlet Sportowe Fakty, the top women’s tennis player suggested that she was regularly asked about her emotional reaction to the 2021 WTA Finals, with her perception that the media’s questions were negative.
She went on to suggest that the reaction of players showing their emotions on court is treated differently compared to the names of stars on the ATP Tour.
“Journalists often ask me about the 2021 WTA Finals in Guadalajara,” she said.
“It’s not good when your emotions prevent you from continuing to play or achieve your best tennis. Sometimes people don’t understand that a player also has the right to emotions
“It’s much harder for athletes to forgive them. This is why I felt ashamed after Guadalajara. Today, I believe we should not be like rocks.
“If I claimed to be indestructible, I would be distorting reality. I prefer to show my true face.
“Women are judged more harshly, as if we have no control over our emotions.
“During the ATP Finals, we saw that men also reacted differently on the court, sometimes they were aggressive, sometimes they also cried.
“However, in men’s tennis it is accepted and interpreted as a passion that leads to success.”
In a revealing interview, Swiatek also suggested that her first meeting with her idol Rafael Nadal was an interesting experience.
The Polish star admits she has an introverted personality and to calm her nerves before meeting Nadal, she wrote a few words on a note to remind him what to say.
“I don’t remember what was on that note, but it wasn’t a unique situation,” she said. “I did this more often when I was a teenager. I recommend it to all introverts! If I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t know what we could talk about. Now I’m opening up more and more.
“I wouldn’t want anyone to think of me as someone from another world anymore. And (Nadal) thought that I had no problem, that everything was perfect for me.
“Each of us has our own bubble on tour. We let the most important people in and its interior is different from what you read in the media.
Swiatek’s ability to handle pressure has also been a topic in tennis since her rise to the top and she later suggested that losing the world No. 1 spot to Ayrna Sabalenka after the US Open was a liberating experience.
Swiatek was unexpectedly thrust into the world No. 1 position when Ashleigh Barty left tennis at the start of 2022 and it appears that burden has weighed heavily on her.
“In the middle of the year, I carried a burden of maintaining rankings – I don’t like that term and I try to avoid it,” she said.
“Aryna Sabalenka had many opportunities to jump on me, it finally happened. Then I felt free. It was a little easier for me to just focus on my game again.”
This release of tension certainly seemed to work for Swiatek, who put together a series of impressive performances to win the WTA Finals in Cancun.
Swiatek will begin 2024 as world No. 1, and she will strive to handle the pressures that come with that status a little more effectively in her second stint as tennis queen.