The Polish tennis superstar recognizes that besides facing top opposition on the courts she has to deal with mental pressure from fans, used to seeing her win.Iga Swiatek’s life changed in October 2020. The Polish player won her first Grand Slam title by defeating Sofia Kenin in two sets in the Roland Garros final.
Since then, the Warsaw native exponentially grew as a young player and slowly proved her skills and ability could take her to the very top.
Swiatek, who had already shown her potential when she won the 2018 Wimbledon girls’ singles trophy, translated that dominance into clay courts over the last two years.2022 was her maiden year, going on a 37-match winning streak, from her victory over Viktorija Golubic at the Qatar Open to her last win against Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove.
Swiatek had recently won her last eight games but lost to Barbora Krejcikova in two sets in the Dubai final last weekend.
Swiatek addresses her fans on social media
Despite losing in the last round of Dubai, the 21-year-old wanted to make her fans know on social media that losing is part of the sport and that she had been playing great tennis so far.
“I enjoyed the tournaments in Doha and Dubai, and even though I lost the final in Dubai (huuuuge congrats Krejcikova), my level was good despite the infection and I gave it all I could at the moment”.
“I can see that some of you have higher expectations of me, but, well… I’m just human. I will keep my standards high, I will enjoy my time on tour, and keep working hard. At the end of the day, that is all I can control, my effort and engagement”, she added.The world No. 1 also talked about those tennis fans who believe that she’s just too strong and has very little opposition from her WTA opponents.
“Honestly, I don’t mind that they’re saying if it looks easy or not. I know that it’s never easy”, she stated.
Despite her youth, Swiatek already knows what it feels like to be on the top of the rankings and be the favorite wherever she goes.
The external pressure affected more top players
In an individual sport such as tennis, the pressure of winning, added to the total dedication to the sport to keep progressing, can affect the very best players.
Spanish star Carlos Alcaraz said a few months ago he felt the pressure of becoming the best player in the rankings and unexpectedly lost a few games after his US Open historic win.
But Alcaraz is not alone. Former tennis player and WTA No. 1 Ash Barty admitted she struggled with the fans’ and media pressure of seeing her win before she retired at 25, when she was in her prime.
Naomi Osaka is probably the most famous case of how expectations can affect players psychologically and force them to take a break.
In 2021, the Japanese star withdrew from Roland Garros, citing mental health issues, and after losing to Leylah Fernandez in the third round of the US Open that year, she revealed that she would be taking a second hiatus from the sport and that winning didn’t make her happy anymore.