World No 1 Iga Swiatek continues her busy schedule after securing her 3rd French Open title last Saturday, delivering a keynote speech during the graduation ceremony at the Rafa Nadal Academy on Wednesday in Mallorca, Spain, and renewing her racket contract with Tecnifibre.
I often have the feeling that, sometimes, when I'm playing, or when I'm doing things off court, that I should do them better, or I should seek perfection. But this shouldn't be the sense. We should all focus on the process, and ,giving 100 percent, no matter what you can give, because every day is different. So I hope, no matter what you do in the future years, if you're going to give 100 percent, if you're going to dedicate your focus and time to do it the best way possible, no matter what the result is going to be, I'm sure that you'll have no regrets at the end. Iga Świątek
The 22-year old Pole told the audience of graduates and their families that Nadal has been a constant reminder of how persevering, and never giving up, can make a difference in life.
The 4-time major champion was invited to give the speech to this year’s class of graduates, which included 2022 US Open girl’s champion Alexandra Eala.
“Honestly, for us, it’s a huge privilege to have you here today,” Nadal said in his opening remarks. “I know that everybody here at the Academy, the students especially, appreciate your efforts, that after winning Roland Garros, you are here inspiring all the kids.”
After posing with Nadal for individual photos with each graduate, Swiatek got her chance to properly celebrate her own high school graduation, which took place 3 years ago during the pandemic.
“If I could borrow one of the hats, and throw it in the air, that would be so cool because when I graduated it was during COVID, so I got only an online graduation,” Swiatek said.
The academy was happy to oblige, giving Swiatek a matching royal blue mortarboard and a tassel, joining the graduating class on stage and, right on cue, she moved her tassel to the left and threw her cap in the air in celebration with the graduates.
In her speech she said: “For the last few weeks, I’ve been looking at one quote at Roland Garros in Paris. On Philippe Chatrier Stadium it’s written – ‘The victory belongs to the most tenacious’.
Swiatek added that Nadal’s example impacted her version of ‘tenacity’.
“I often have the feeling that, sometimes, when I’m playing, or when I’m doing things off court, that I should do them better, or I should seek perfection,” she said. “But this shouldn’t be the sense. We should all focus on the process, and ,giving 100 percent, no matter what you can give, because every day is different.
“So I hope, no matter what you do in the future years, if you’re going to give 100 percent, if you’re going to dedicate your focus and time to do it the best way possible, no matter what the result is going to be, I’m sure that you’ll have no regrets at the end.”
Swiatek also told those in attendance her admiration for Nadal grew steadily as she watched more of his matches, particularly during those moments when he wasn’t at his best, when he struggled on the court, and still managed to overcome the obstacles.
“These are the matches that inspired me,” she said. “So I hope you will be tenacious.”
Swiatek also took the time to encourage the graduates to be as tenacious and mindful with their mental health and personal growth as they are with their tennis.
“When I was younger, it was really hard to open up, to talk about what I want to do, what I want to achieve, how I feel,” Swiatek said. “When I started doing that, I felt I could truly work on myself, and I became a much better person.
“So whatever you do in the future, don’t hesitate to seek help. Don’t hesitate to talk about difficult stuff.”
When she finished, she high-fived Nadal and sat down next to him to watch a new generation of players begin their journey.
Later, Swiatek took to her Twitter account and expressed her gratitude to Nadal: “Thank you so much Rafael Nadal and the Rafa Nadal Academy for having me. I loved every minute of this experience.”
A day later, on Thursday, Swiatek renewed her deal with racket manufacturer Tecnifibre until 2026, the company changing its Twitter handle from Tecnifibre to Swiateknifibre.
“Hey guys, I am so happy to announce with Tecnifibre that we are prolonging our relationship,’ she posted on social media. “It’s been so great to have this amazing product with me and amazing support from the Tecnifibre team. I really enjoyed my previous years and I am pretty sure we gonna have many more successes in the future.”
It has been a few good weeks for Swiatek following the disappointing finish to her Italian Open campaign when she retired days ahead of Roland Garros, leaving many in doubt as to whether she would be able to play at the second Grand Slam of the season.
Fans can expect to see Swiatek back in action at Wimbledon, and, although the Pole says the grass court season is tricky for her, she did, in fact, win the Junior Girls singles title in 2018, her only Grand Slam junior crown.
Last year, after taking a breather between the clay-court major in Paris and Wimbledon’s grass courts, Swiatek never really got going at The Championships, losing in the 3rd-round to Alizé Cornet in a match that ended her 37-match winning streak, but she will be hoping to prove this year that she can win big titles on the surface.
After Wimbledon, Swiatek has committed to compete at a WTA 250 hard-court tournament, which starts in Warsaw on 24 July, the only Polish tournament on the schedule.
In its first two tournament editions, Warsaw was a clay-court tournament, but due to its date in the calendar, the tournament organisers have switched to a hard surface, which they beilieve will be better for the event going forward.
When Swiatek signed up to play on clay in Warsaw last year, it made little sense for the World No 1 to switch from grass back to clay and then on to hard courts in such a short period, but she wanted to support the only WTA tournament in Poland.
She suffered her first clay loss of the season there, though, after Caroline Garcia took her down, 6-1 1-6 6-4.
After the shock upset, the Frenchwoman said that her goal had been to be really aggressive and believe in her game.
“I started very strong, putting a lot of pressure on her,” she said. “As soon as I got a bit lower-intensity, she came back very strong, and that’s what is happening against a top player. I stayed positive, I kept believing in my game and the way I wanted to play, and the third set was definitely very good tennis.”
Nevertheless, Forbes Women recently announced that Swiatek has the most valuable female personal brand in Poland in 2023, for the 3rd consecutive year.
In 2021, Swiatek’s image was valued at €85 million, which has increased in two years to €220 million – a remarkable €135 million increase, while Anna Lewandowska, professional karate athlete and footballer Robert Lewandowski’s wife, was ranked second in the list with her image valued at €62 million.
This year, Swiatek will certainly be the favourite in Warsaw in front of an enthusiastic Polish crowd, and it will be a good warm up for her North American hard-court swing, which didn’t get off to the best of starts in 2022 as she exited the Canadian Open in the 3rd-round, and starts in Montreal on 7 August.
It is then on to the next WTA 1000, the Cincinnati Open, which, again, did not yield much success last season as did not make it past the 3rd-round in Mason, Ohio.
In fact, Swiatek has yet to make it past the 3rd-round in the back-to-back WTA 1000 events in North America, but her results in Canada and Ohio were quickly forgotten as she went all the way at Flushing Meadows to win the US Open for the first time, seeing off off some big hitters in Aryna Sabalenka, Jessica Pegula and Ons Jabeur in New York.