Winning her second major title of 2022 and third major overall, Iga Swiatek is refocusing the dynamic of women’s tennis and giving it just what it needs.
Having toppled Ons Jabeur in the US Open final, Iga Swiatek is now a three-time Grand Slam champion at just 21 years of age. In a time when women’s tennis has become a free-for-all competition with no player standing out from the pack, we may finally be seeing a shift in this dynamic. Since the unprecedented retirement of Ash Barty earlier this year, Iga Swiatek has managed to maintain the number one spot in the WTA rankings all throughout the 2022 season.
The importance of a stable champion
One of the best ways to promote tennis is by marketing a great champion that people can look up to as a role model. The persistence, hard work, and determination they exhibit in their craft can give people hope and inspiration in their day-to-day activities and careers. In the last few decades, we’ve seen players like Serena Williams, Venus Williams, and Maria Sharapova make a strong impact on the world as former world number ones and multi-Grand Slam champions.
In the ATP, the faces of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic are easily recognizable even by those who have little interest in tennis. Yet, regardless of whether you’re a fan or not, most of us can agree on the huge impact these types of players have had on not just their sport but the world at large. This is because the efforts, discipline, and character required to reach such heights in any field of life are worthy of praise and respect, no matter the area or industry.
In recent times, women’s tennis has lacked such an influential figure for the world to be inspired by, with constantly rotating champions that leave little impact on global societies outside of tennis. Since the fading out of Serena Williams, the closest we’ve seen to such a figure was Ash Barty, who had remained the world number one for many weeks and claimed three Grand Slam titles before her early retirement in 2022 at the age of 25. However, with Iga Swiatek achieving similar feats to the retired Aussie at just 21 years old, we may finally have ourselves a champion that’s here to inspire for the long run.
Every champion needs a rival
We’ve seen it all throughout history, whether it was Margaret Court vs. Billie Jean King, Steffi Graf vs. Monica Seles, or Serena Williams vs. Venus Williams, every champion needs a rival. It can be easy to fall into complacency when there is no one to challenge you at the top, and that complacency can easily see your world crashing down. Iga Swiatek will likely have many rivalries with the Top 10 or even the Top 20 players on the WTA, particularly with the nature of the competition and the equally high level of tennis that each player can bring to the court.
Claiming consecutive runner-up titles for Wimbledon and the US Open, Ons Jabeur has certainly had one of the best years of her career in 2022. Her head-to-head record against world No.1 Iga Swiatek is quite impressive, having bested the Pole in two out of five matches since 2019. Jabeur is likely to remain a threat to whoever finds themselves at the top spot of the WTA ladder, and it would not be strange to see the talented Tunisian make her way there herself in the years to come.
Tennis rivalries are one of the most important aspects of the game, as it truly brings the sport to life and pushes players beyond their limits. The classic bout between Federer and Nadal saw tennis grow to a level of popularity unseen in the history of the sport, as fans from all over the world would tune in whenever the two would meet on the court. As Iga Swiatek continues to succeed as world No.1, we will surely see the emergence of one or more rivals to challenge her position. Indeed, a stable champion who rests on the throne is a vital component for players to push themselves and have a target to aim for.
Women’s tennis is about to get even more exciting
As women’s tennis sees the emergence of a new champion in Iga Swiatek, the competition is likely to get more fierce as players take aim at their new target. The boost of confidence, publicity, and popularity that can be obtained by defeating a dominant world No.1 can do wonders for the careers of lower-ranked players. As 2023 draws near, the excitement is sure to elevate as Swiatek looks to continue her fairy tale run of success while the rest of the WTA search for a way to dethrone her.
Having won a total of 10 WTA singles titles and obtaining three Grand Slams under her belt at just 21 years of age, Iga Swiatek is one of the most successful tennis players of the modern era, female or male. The Pole’s 2022 success saw her reach the world number one spot in April, secure multiple Grand Slam and WTA titles, and even achieve a blazing 37-match win streak. Her consistency, dedication, and hard work have been unmatched throughout the season and are likely to continue throughout 2023. Without a doubt, Iga Swiatek is the player to beat.