For Iga Swiatek, one week after becoming the first Pole to win a Grand Slam singles title following a flawless run at Roland Garros, newfound national stardom is set to become the norm.
Fortunately, a level-headedness way beyond her 19 years means she is all too aware of the sudden spurt in popularity and not only has the maturity to deal with it, but thrive in it.
‘It’s been crazy in Poland,’ she tells Sportsmail. ‘I’ve had loads of media coverage, I’ve been on TV Shows and on Wednesday I was on air from 9am to 9pm!
Iga Swiatek became Poland’s first singles Grand Slam winner after her French Open triumph
The 19-year-old stormed through the field to win the women’s singles without dropping a set
‘I can finally get my thoughts together and I can finally believe I’ve won a Grand Slam. I’m getting more and more popular so I’m still trying to get used to that. I’m going to need a few weeks to learn how to be a celebrity so it’s a new experience for me, it’s such a unique time.’
Unique would be the appropriate word, not just for Swiatek’s life post-Paris, but throughout the autumn fortnight on the clay. Starting the tournament unseeded, ranked 54 in the world, the teenager brutally dismantled every opponent placed in front of her with exemplary ingenuity and professionalism, not dropping a set along the way.
This was not just a case of a draw falling into place for the teenager either. Far from it in fact.
From round one, when she beat last year’s finalist Marketa Vondrousova, to the fourth round when she conceded a mere three games to event favourite Simona Halep, Swiatek’s level of play reached new meteoric heights match-by-match.
By the final, when Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin stood in her way, the Pole’s swashbuckling all-court game was close to unbeatable. For the loss of just 28 games over seven matches, the 19-year-old goes down as the lowest ranked French Open women’s champion in history.
‘The pressure was really high but I was playing great tennis – my level was so good that I could live with anyone,’ Swiatek says, shortly after arriving back in her native Poland.
The Pole was ranked 54 at the beginning of the tournament but her ranking now stands at 17
Swiatek dropped just three games in the fourth round against 2018 champion Simona Halep
‘I wasn’t expecting that result. Even If I was playing my best tennis I thought I’d be able to reach the final at a maximum, but that was also shocking to me. I’m really glad that my tennis simply clicked at the French Open.’
Unusually, Swiatek’s singles performance did not dip despite involvement in the women’s doubles either, where alongside partner Nicole Melichar they reached the semi-finals.
Using her finesse at the net to her advantage while riding solo too, was playing doubles a stroke of genius as the tournament unfolded?
‘It had a pretty good impact because I had a match every day and I was able to keep my routine,’ Asics athlete Swiatek says.
‘My head was always in match-mode – I actually thought it would make me more tired but I felt really good on the court. It helped me to develop my volleys and approach play too, so I definitely think it was good to take doubles seriously.’
Swiatek also reached the semi-finals of the women’s doubles with American Nicole Melichar
The daughter of an Olympic rower, with her father competing at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, sporting prowess comes naturally in the Swiatek family. Though it was late in the day, her father and her sister were there to witness the historic moment on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
‘It was pretty emotional for him [my father] and I’m really glad he was able to watch my final match because usually he stays at home.
‘The final was so special that he had to be there. My sister also came to Paris so it was amazing to have the most important people there supporting me.
Those closest to her would be wise in emphasising calmness and stability now, with the fanfare surrounding her triumph making her something of a national hero already. But that shouldn’t be necessary – Swiatek transmits an aura of sophistication and appreciates the bigger picture, not just in her tennis career but her life in general.
Swiatek will train at Cambridge University later this year with British coach Nick Brown
After resting in the short-term, the 19-year-old will train at Cambridge University before the year is out under the tutelage of British coach and former Davis Cup player Nick Brown, who has acted as a mentor for the Pole thus far.
Perhaps not Cambridge, but continuing her education at university – to study psychology – is something Swiatek refuses to rule out despite her recent ascension up the rankings.
‘School was basically my priority until I was 16 and I think it’s important to focus on other things other than tennis,’ she explains.
‘If I focused just on tennis it would all be too hard and I wouldn’t have the energy at all. I still need to decide whether I’m going to go to university or not – right now I’m not sure it’s possible but maybe after I finish my career?’
The 19-year-old has faced numerous media commitments since her arrival back in Poland
As for her progress on-court, Swiatek is now looking to consolidate her top-notch form for an extended period of time, something first-time major winners such as Jelena Ostapenko have struggled with in recent years.
‘My main goal now is to be consistent and to experience the top-10 of the rankings for a long period of time,’ Swiatek states. ‘I struggle with consistency but my long-term goal and dream is of course to win all four Grand Slam.
‘Actually I felt it was a little bit more like a dream than a goal… but it’s not a dream anymore after I’ve won the French Open!’