The old guard still rules the men’s professional tennis circuit. Raphael Nadal won the French Open Grand at Roland Garros, to make it his 13th Grand Slam championship victory at this venue and his 20th in total across all Grand Slam competitions. Fittingly, the French Open was Nadal’s first-ever Grand Slam crown in 2005 at the tender age of 19 years and three months.
The First Polish Female Tennis Player to win a Grand Slam
Although the old guard are not making an impression in terms of Grand Slams in the men’s game, the same cannot be said for the ladies’ game. Iga Swiatek became the 2020 Roland Garros ladies champion, lifting her first-ever Grand Slam crown. She is the first Polish tennis player to win a Grand Slam, and like Nadal, she did it at the age of just 19.
The size of her achievement
The remarkable thing is that not only was she unseeded, but she took the crown without losing a set or no more than five games in any one of her matches. She is not the youngest female tennis player to win a Grand Slam. That honour still belongs to Martina Hingis who at the young age of 16 years and 177 days, won the Australian Grand Slam back in 1997.
That same year, Hingis became the second-youngest lady ever to win the American open at the age of 16 years, 10 months, and 26 days. She was pipped to the post by Tracy Austin, who was her junior by just two months and 10 days.
Young lady tennis players have been much more successful than their male counterparts in terms of replacing the old guard. The last time a lady “old guard” won a Grand Slam was in 2017 when Serena Williams took the Australian Open crown by beating her sister, Venus.
The Youngest French Open Women’s Champion since 1992
To return to Iga Swiatek’s accomplishment, she is the youngest of the French Open women’s champions since 1992 when an 18-year-old Monica Seles lifted the crown, and she was absolutely delighted.
Gap Year Tennis
When she entered the tournament, she was ranked number 54 in the world. She has recently got her high school diploma and had a vague plan of trying her hand on the WTA tour in what she described as her “gap year,” before deciding if she would be going to university. Perhaps now, Uni will be put on a back burner?
No easy ride
Swiatek’s journey at Roland Garros was not easy. She met and defeated the world No1, Simona Halep in the round of 16 before beating others ranked well above her.
She admits that her game is not yet perfectly developed and believes that the biggest challenge she faces is becoming consistent. To be fair, this is quite common within the women’s tennis game at the moment and is why there is no elite “guard” expected to win the majority of Grand Slam titles as in the men’s game.
One thing is for sure, and that is that at only 19 years of age, Iga Swiatek is definitely a name to watch out for the future in the future.