On Monday, April 4, Iga Swiatek became the World No. 1 in women’s tennis. But how did she get there?
Swiatek has been steadily rising through the WTA’s (Women’s Tennis Association) rankings since she began her professional career in 2016. By the end of her first year, she was at rank 903 in the world at 15 years old. And by the end of 2018, Swiatek had broken into the top 200, sitting at 175th in the world. One year later, she had risen to 61st thanks to milestones such as reaching the 4th round at the French Open, one of the 4 Grand Slam tournaments. Swiatek ended up losing to the defending champion, Simona Halep. Then, after beating Caroline Wozniacki (No.18) in the Canadian Open, she lost to Naomi Osaka, who was 2nd in the world then. However, it was enough to break into the top 50, even if she ended the year at 61st due to having surgery in the latter part of the year.
Then, in 2020, she won the French Open, defeating Halep (who was the favorite to win the Slam) in the fourth round. She became the first Polish player to win the French Open, as well as the youngest to win since Rafael Nadal in 2005. She also played doubles at the French Open and reached the semifinals without dropping a set with her partner, Nicole Melichar. These successes boosted her to 17th in the world. At the Italian Open (A Masters 1000 event), she defeated Karolína Plíšková, Elina Svitolina, and Coco Gauff, all notable names in women’s tennis, on her way to winning the event. After this win, in May of 2021, she rose to No.9 in the rankings, breaking into the top ten.
In 2022, she reached the Australian Open quarterfinals and won against Kaia Kanepi before losing in the semifinals to Danielle Collins. Then she moved on to win the Qatar Open, another Masters 1000 tournament. Then after winning at Indian Wells, she became No.2 in the world. And then, after the announcement of World No.1 Ash Barty’s retirement, Swiatek became World No.1 after her second-round match at the Miami Open.
She has steadily risen through her aggressive offensive playing style. Growing up on a clay court has translated into intricate footwork and good overall movement on the court. She generates incredible topspin, especially on her forehand, reaching levels comparable to Nadal at Indian Wells.
At only 20 years old, she’s already made a name for herself in women’s tennis in multiple ways. She’s the youngest player in the top ten right now and the first Polish player, man or woman, to be ranked No. 1. Swiatek’s rise may appear instantaneous, but after taking a look at her career so far, it’s clear that accomplishments like these don’t just come out of nowhere. Her hard work has paid off, and now it’s time to see what she’ll do next.
All rankings and statistics are taken from the official WTA website.
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