Despite a highly competitive player field with the likes of two-time Grand Slam Champion Simona Halep as well as four other members of the Top 10 in Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina, Sofia Kenin and Kiki Bertens, it was the 19-year-old Iga Swiatek of Poland who emerged champion this past weekend, capturing the attention of the tennis world at large.
The world no. 54 came into the tournament as a relative unknown, having notched only 10 previous main draw wins at a Grand Slam event in her career. But that didn’t prevent her from making a statement in Paris.
After edging out Marketa Vondrousova (no. 15), Hsieh Su-Wei and Eugenie Bouchard in the opening rounds, Swiatek made herself known to the competition by eliminating the No. 1 seed, two-time major winner and overwhelming tournament favourite, Simona Halep. And not only did she win, she won handily.
She continued her domination in the quarters and semis, ousting Martina Trevisan and Nadia Pondoroska, two other players who managed to make surprisingly deep runs in France.
But it was in the final where Swiatek really shined. Taking on the no. 4 seed Kenin, she was the clear underdog, having never made it past the fourth round at a Grand Slam before now. She needed just under an hour and a half to defeat her more experienced American opponent 6-4, 6-1 to claim her maiden Grand Slam title.
“I’m just proud of myself. I’ve done a great job past two weeks. I wasn’t expecting to win this trophy. It’s obviously amazing for me. It’s a life-changing experience,” stated Swiatek after Saturday’s final.
And while all of that is impressive enough on its own, her magnificent journey to the title included a number of historic milestones:
- First person of Polish descent to win a singles Grand Slam title.
- Lowest ranked player to ever capture the crown in Paris since the introduction of computer rankings in 1975, going into the tournament ranked no. 54 in the world.
- Youngest French Open champion since Monica Seles won the title back in 1992.
- Tied for the second-fewest games lost en route to a French Open title, dropping only 28 games in two weeks.
- First woman to win the title in Paris without losing a set since Justine Henin’s run in 2007.
The rising star also notched number of firsts in her career, including first win over a Top 10 (of which she now has two) as well as her first title won at the tour level (she has not even won a WTA title yet).
And while Swiatek knows that there is still a lot of work ahead to achieve her goals, she has undoubtedly cemented her place as contender for the years the come.