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Iga Swiatek lauds Roland Garros focus on mental health with social media protection app
The defending champion spoke at length about the French Tennis Federation’s efforts to safeguard players from negative comments posted on their official pages.
Published May 26, 2023
WATCH: Swiatek discussed her return to Roland Garros in her Media Day press conference on Friday.
PARIS—Roland Garros has taken the conversation surrounding player mental health to a new level, meeting the Digital Age head on with Bodyguard.ai, an anti-hate speech app gaining praise from world No. 1 Iga Swiatek.
“I will use the app,” Swiatek declared during her 2023 Roland Garros Media Day press conference. “It's just sad to kind of see that [social media,] the thing that was supposed to kind of make us happy and make us socialized is giving us more negative feelings and negative thoughts. So, I think these kind of apps maybe will help us to, I don't know, use social media and not worry about those things.”
According to a press release provided by the tournament, Bodyguard.ai is the culmination of a five-year effort on behalf of the French Tennis Federation (FFT) against online trolls.
“Bodyguard.ai will provide the organizers with daily reports (number of messages received, number of messages deleted, etc), alert them in real time in the event of an identified attack, and can even—at the request of the FFT—provide extracts of messages and the identities of the culprits in the event of legal action,” notes the release.
The move comes as a welcome relief to Swiatek, who was wistful of her initial enjoyment of social media and her ability to connect with fans.
“After tournaments I had this ritual of going just to see what people thought about my matches, you know, a little bit. But right now, I stopped doing that, because even when I had two tournaments where, one I won, the other one I was in the final, I went on social media and people were unhappy because they kind of after last year they thought that I should win everything, or that I'm getting worse because I'm not winning, you know.
“So, it frustrated me a little bit, and I realized that there is no sense to read all that stuff.”
Swiatek is also pleased with the tournament’s broader efforts to keep players at ease, including the proliferation of quiet areas and places where athletes can decompress and nap.
“I think they care about our well-being, so that's great.”
The top seed arrives to Roland Garros having won the event twice in the last three years, and confident of her ability to face a hungry field despite an injury that curtailed her Internazionali BNL d’Italia campaign last week.
“I'm still recovering from the thigh injury, but I'll be good for my first round. That's the most important thing for me.”
Swiatek will play her first match against Cristina Buçsa.