There aren’t many players who can come out of nowhere and win a Grand Slam title, but to come out of nowhere and completely steamroll to a Grand Slam title is another thing entirely. Enter Iga Swiatek.
Though she’s been a rising star on the tour for a few years now, going into Roland Garros, Swiatek probably wasn’t anyone’s pick to lift the title—she was ranked No. 54, had never won a tour-level title, had never been to a Grand Slam quarterfinal and had never even beaten a Top 10 player.
Over the past two weeks in Paris, she defied all of those stats—the last one twice, even.
Swiatek absolutely powered through the draw, defeating No. 15 seed (and last year’s runner-up) Marketa Vondrousova in the first round, 6-1, 6-2; rallying from 4-1 down in the second set to beat Hsieh Su-Wei in the second round, 6-1, 6-4; beating former No. 5 Eugenie Bouchard in the third round, 6-3, 6-2; crushing No. 1 seed Simona Halep in the fourth round, 6-1, 6-2; cruising past a pair of qualifiers—Martina Trevisan and Nadia Podoroska—in the quarters and semis, 6-3, 6-1 and 6-2, 6-1; and, finally, out-hitting No. 4 seed and 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin for the title, 6-4, 6-1.
She wasn’t just the first woman to win Roland Garros without dropping a set since Justine Henin in 2007, but by dropping just 28 games, Swiatek tied Chris Evert’s run in 1979 for second-fewest games lost en route to the title in the Open Era, trailing only Steffi Graf, who lost just 20 in 1988. (Graf famously won the 1988 final over Natalia Zvereva, 6-0, 6-0.)
But while Graf and Evert were the No. 1 seeds, Swiatek wasn’t. Not even close.
At No. 54, Swiatek is the lowest-ranked woman to win Roland Garros in the Open Era, beating out Jelena Ostapenko, who was No. 47 when she won it in 2017. The Pole also won her first tour-level title here, the first player to achieve that since Ostapenko did the same thing three years ago.
The 19-year-old is also the first player born in 2001 or later, male or female, to win a Grand Slam title, and the youngest woman to win Roland Garros since an 18-year-old Monica Seles in 1992.
And perhaps the biggest source of pride: she’s the first Polish player, male or female, to win a Grand Slam singles title.
“Well, I’m just proud of myself,” Swiatek said. “I’ve done a great job the past two weeks. I wasn’t expecting to win this trophy. It’s obviously amazing for me. It’s, like, a life-changing experience.
“Yeah, I just feel like I kind of made history, but I still think that [Agnieszka] Radwanska, she achieved a lot, because she played on the top level of the WTA for, I don’t know, 12 years. I don’t even know the number. I know there’s going to be a lot of people who are going to compare us. But I think I have to be really consistent for the next couple of years for everybody to, like, name me the best player in Poland, because I still have a lot to do. I still think that’s kind of her place, you know.”
Swiatek won’t be hidden away among the unseeded players in any draws anymore—she’s projected to soar from No. 54 to No. 17 on Monday, her simultaneous Top 40, Top 30 and Top 20 debuts.