Iga Swiatek says she cried when she heard about Ash Barty’s retirement

Swiatek, Barty

Iga Swiatek has described becoming world number one as a ‘huge moment’ but says she cried after finding out Ashleigh Barty had retired.

The 20-year-old, who officially became the world’s top-ranked player on Monday, is the 28th player to hold the number one ranking in the Open Era and the first-ever Polish player, male or female, to do so. 

The former French Open champion marked the achievement in style by winning the Miami Open on Saturday –– beating former world number one Naomi Osaka in straight sets.

Swiatek continues remarkable streak 

There is no other player who has more match victories than Swiatek in 2022 and certainly none more deserving of replacing Barty at the top of the rankings. 

By triumphing in Miami, Swiatek extended her winning streak to 17 matches and she has now won three tournaments in succession, having also won at the Qatar Open and at Indian Wells. 

All three tournaments are classed as WTA 1000 events –– considered the most prestigious below the four majors. 

By claiming titles at Indian Wells and in Miami, Swiatek is just the fourth woman to win the ‘Sunshine Double’ in the same year –– alongside Steffi Graf, Kim Clijsters and Victoria Azarenka. 

Added to this, the Pole also reached the semi-finals of this year’s Australian Open but lost to Danielle Collins in straight sets. 

Swiatek reflects on becoming world number one 

Speaking to BBC Sport, Swiatek revealed she cried when she initially found out about Barty’s retirement. 

“I was crying for 40 minutes,” she said. “Mainly, it was because of Ash’s retirement. I didn’t know it was going to happen and it really surprised me.

“I always had this vision that we would all play until we are 35 or something [or] until our bodies are so tired that we can’t anymore.

“I needed time to actually understand what she must have thought. Her decision was really brave and I felt a lot of emotions because of that.”

Yet, having had time to process everything, the Polish star now feels an immense sense of pride and posted a statement on social media, congratulating her family, team, partners and herself. 

“It’s official today and I want to give myself, my family, my team, and [my] partners a moment to celebrate it and to be happy about it. 

“I usually don’t focus on numbers or rankings, but this moment is huge to me as I have become the first Polish, female or male, tennis player to reach the top spot in the singles. 

“I hope maybe one day there will be more of us in Poland playing tennis at the highest possible level. I’m extremely grateful that my work could be an inspiration for some people. 

“And last but not least… I love the game and appreciate every moment of it these days.”

New injury problems

Swiatek was scheduled to start the clay season at the Charleston Open this week but has withdrawn due to an arm injury. 

“I hoped to start the clay season in Charleston but unfortunately, I need to wait to play this great tournament with big traditions,” she said via the tournament’s Twitter account. 

It’s hardly surprising to see the Pole pull out of the competition, given how much tennis she has played of late. 

Swiatek is yet to confirm the time frame for her return but fingers crossed she’s fit in time for Roland-Garros

The 20-year-old burst onto the scene in 2020 when she won the French Open without dropping a set and has a strong chance of claiming her second Grand Slam on clay this season.

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