At only 22 years of age, Polish tennis player Iga Świątek’s rise in the tennis world has been nothing short of remarkable. Currently holding the World No. 2 ranking by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), Świątek has solidified her status as a four-time Grand Slam champion—with her most recent triumph at the 2023 Roland-Garros. To date, she boasts an impressive tally of 14 WTA Tour titles. Świątek’s incredible 37-match winning streak, stretching from Doha through Wimbledon, marked one of the longest unbeaten runs on the Tour since 1990. Her journey began with her maiden Grand Slam singles title at Roland-Garros in 2020, an achievement made all the more exceptional by her flawless performance, as she became the first player from Poland to win a Grand Slam without dropping a single set. Having become a Rolex Testimonee in 2021, Świątek shares more about how she first started with tennis and the continuous pursuit of excellence in her career.
WHAT ARE YOUR OVERALL THOUGHTS ABOUT ROLEX’S LONGSTANDING SUPPORT OF TENNIS?
IGA ŚWIĄTEK (IS): For me, it is like Rolex has always been in tennis—its support is so significant and vital for our sport. Tennis is a beautiful game and needs longstanding support to develop and make more and more people enjoy it.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH ROLEX?
IS: The opportunity to work with Rolex came after I won my first Grand Slam at Roland-Garros in 2020. Winning a Grand Slam at such a young age was definitely unexpected and changed my life in some ways. My success enabled me to develop my fashion sense which places great emphasis on elegant and high-quality style. My relationship with Rolex also makes me feel special and proud of my sports achievements. When I was at the Rolex headquarters in Geneva, I saw first-hand everything that I had read about the brand. I was highly impressed by its history, the strong values of its employees and the approach of having a true calling to do their job and pursue excellence. My relationship with Rolex means a lot to me.
WHICH ROLEX WATCHES DO YOU HAVE, AND DO YOU HAVE ANY STORIES ABOUT THEM?
IS: I have a Datejust and I love it. It’s elegant, quite small and simple, which is perfect because I value comfort and simplicity in my everyday life. I wear it almost all the time off the court. It became an important part of my non-sports outfits, which are simple but with a touch of elegance. I first wore my Rolex during a fashion magazine photoshoot and I realised then that it fits and enhances every outfit, adding a distinct element of elegance and character.
WHEN DID YOU START PLAYING TENNIS, AND WHO INTRODUCED YOU TO THE GAME?
IS: My older sister started playing tennis first and I used to hang around during her practices. At the beginning, I mainly interrupted her but soon tried to train like her and as I grew up, I started to play regularly. For both of us, it was our father who introduced us to the game and who had the biggest impact on my tennis at a young age.
YOU MADE HEADLINES WHEN YOU WON THE 2020 ROLAND-GARROS AT JUST 19 YEARS OLD. HOW DID IT FEEL TO WIN SUCH A BIG TOURNAMENT SO EARLY IN YOUR CAREER?
IS: It was like a quick course of maturity for me. Everything changed that day. In some ways, winning such a big tournament at such a young age makes it more difficult to win again due to the added pressure and expectation from others—from society but from myself. Most players have the sole goal of winning a big tournament like a Grand Slam. I achieved this early in my career which only made me even hungrier to win more. This feeling is something I try to deal with and use as motivation.
YOU ARE ALWAYS STRIVING FOR CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT, WHAT IS YOUR NEXT PROJECT OR FOCUS AREA ON YOUR GAME AS YOU LOOK TO SET THE HIGHEST STANDARDS OF PERFORMANCE IN TENNIS?
IS: When it comes to my tennis skills, I want to improve my serve to make it more reliable, especially in the most difficult moments during a match. On the other hand, I have a couple of areas to work on in terms of my mental preparation such as dealing with my emotions while I’m playing. I want to have more constructive thoughts and use them properly and to my advantage in court.
YOU MADE HISTORY IN 2020 BY BECOMING THE FIRST POLISH PLAYER TO WIN A GRAND SL AM SINGLES TITLE. ARE YOU DRIVEN BY RECORDS AND WHAT DOES THIS ACHIEVEMENT MEAN TO YOU?
IS: First of all, I am driven by the pursuit of excellence and providing entertainment for the crowd. I like to play well and aggressively but also show some sophistication in terms of more complex rallies or difficult shots. Winning is important, but tennis is a game of losers. In a match, there is only ever one winner and everybody else loses. I want to be a consistent player and have a long, healthy career. So even if I’m driven by winning, I always try to find pleasure in the process, in everyday work, and in defeat, because that’s part of the job.
AT ONLY 22 YEARS OLD, YOU ARE ALREADY CONSIDERED A PIONEER OF THE SPORT. HOW IMPORTANT IS INSPIRING THE NEXT GENERATION OF TENNIS PL AYERS TO YOU?
IS: One of the most important goals for me is to inspire young athletes and children to move their bodies and to find a sport that suits them best and gives them a lot of joy. I see my impact in Poland in terms of making tennis more and more popular but there is still lots of work to do. Now, when I’m focused on my career, I try to use my social media channels to post about tennis, sports in general, or a healthy lifestyle. There are many comments from my fans that this kind of content is helpful and inspiring for them. I will definitely continue that. There will be time for more action, but for now, my performance on court is doing the most effective work in terms of inspiring others. That’s a good start.
WHO HAVE YOU TAKEN INSPIRATION FROM THROUGHOUT YOUR TENNIS CAREER, EITHER TENNIS PL AYERS OR OTHERWISE?
IS: My first inspiration was my sister Agata who started playing tennis before me and I wanted to follow her, as a typical younger sister. It is no secret that my biggest inspiration is Rafael Nadal, both on and off the court. His game is so inspirational to me as you can see in my forehand. I appreciate him for his attitude in everyday life, as well. He is just a normal guy who likes people, he’s very kind and this great success hasn’t changed him.
HOW DO YOU LIKE TO RELAX AND SPEND TIME AWAY FROM THE TENNIS COURT?
IS: I am usually far away from home, so I appreciate every minute spent in Warsaw with my family and friends. When I’m alone, I like to listen to music and read books. I don’t have a favourite genre. I like diversity and good entertainment. When it comes to books, I recently chose some classic novels like Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell or A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.
FOR ROLEX, THE PERPETUAL PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE AND THE PROMOTION OF IT IS KEY. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS, IS THIS THE SAME FOR YOU? ARE YOU CONTINUOUSLY STRIVING FOR EXCELLENCE?
IS: Unfortunately, sometimes I’m a perfectionist and it’s not necessarily good when it’s extreme. I want to strive for excellence constantly, to be a better version of myself every day. From my perspective, it’s possible to strive for excellence and enjoy what we’re doing at the same time and that’s my goal—to find joy in the process. To pursue my aims, and to work on my skills, but not be too focused on perfection itself, because it can lead to burnout. I believe that my version of the pursuit of excellence is close to Rolex’s philosophy. There is no excellence without the process of pursuing it and finding joy or passion in it.
All images and interview courtesy of Rolex. This article was first published in the October issue of GRAZIA Malaysia.