Iga Swiatek: I'm just overwhelmed

With the poise of a veteran and the shots of a champion, Iga Swiatek, 19, picked the perfect place for her first tour-level title: the French Open. Unseeded and ranked merely 54th, Swiatek grabbed the last six games to beat Sofia Kenin 6-4, 6-1 in the final at Roland Garros on Saturday, becoming the first Polish tennis player to win a Grand Slam singles trophy.

When she smacked one last forehand winner to the corner to end things, Swiatek placed her right hand over her mouth then crouched, shaking her head. "It's crazy. Two years ago, I won a junior Grand Slam, and right now I'm here. It feels like such a short time," Swiatek said, her voice cracking.

"I'm just overwhelmed."

Hard to believe? Maybe. This was, after all, only her seventh major tournament; she'd never been past the fourth round. But the way she played these two weeks made this outcome less of a surprise. Swiatek is the first woman to triumph in Paris without ceding a set since Justine Henin in 2007. She lost only 28 games across seven matches, too.

She is the first teen to win the women's title at the French Open since Iva Majoli in 1997. And Swiatek did it with victories over such opponents as 2018 champion Simona Halep and 2019 runner-up Marketa Vondrousova, both by scores of 6-1, 6-2. So it made sense that Swiatek would be able to get past Kenin, the American who was trying to claim her second major title of 2020 after winning the Australian Open in February. "A great tournament. A great match," Kenin told Swiatek during the trophy ceremony.

Kenin was 16-1 in Grand Slam matches until Saturday. But she dealt with a leg issue in the second set and showed frustration by kicking her red-white-and-blue racket after lost points.

And then there was this: She ran into the composed Swiatek, who only recently completed her high school studies, listens to "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N' Roses before walking on court, travels with a sports psychologist and meditates during changeovers, breathing slowly with her eyes closed. "I was just mentally consistent," Swiatek said. "I felt like today was really stressful for me, so it was kind of hard." This weekend is the culmination of an unusual two weeks, to say the least.

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