World number one Iga Świątek has revealed she seeks advice from retired tennis star Ashleigh Barty.
Świątek moved to the top of the world rankings after Barty’s shock retirement in February.
The 26-year-old had just triumphed at the Australian Open, clinching the third Grand Slam title of her career, when she announced she would be stepping away from tennis.
In her absence, Świątek has embarked on a remarkable winning streak. She recently earned her 29th straight victory in the first round of the French Open, and is on track to secure her sixth successive WTA title this season.
In a column for BBC Sport, Świątek disclosed that she hadn’t felt the need to seek advice from more experienced players, but had spoken to Barty.
“Since becoming the world number one I haven’t felt the need to speak to more experienced players about how to deal with the added responsibilities,” the 20-year-old said.
“For now I feel I have been doing fine but if I have some problems I would reach out to some players. I have the feeling I could get support from some of the players, but on the other hand it is also tough asking your competitors that sort of thing.
“Ashleigh Barty, who I replaced as world number one when she retired in March, is the one who would honestly say what she feels, what she thinks and how she dealt with those things.
“Ash is also perfect to give advice because she isn’t my competitor any more, of course! She has always been really helpful and really supportive.
“I respect her for how much class she has, and I hope to carry myself as the world number one in the same way as she did.”
Świątek, who will play Alison Riske in the second round of the French Open, also revealed she was seen as more of a spokesperson for women’s tennis due to her new status as world number one.
“Generally I feel that with my position I should take a stand and say what I feel about issues,” Świątek said.
“But on the other hand I want to do that in a smart way that is not going to interrupt my preparation for matches and I’m not going to lose focus because of that.
“I’m still trying to find the right balance because first of all my voice is heard loud and clear when I do my job well and I win.
“I’m aware I don’t know everything about the world – I’m still only 20 and I’m still learning. I read a lot of books and I’m trying to educate myself to speak more about different matters.”
Świątek has been wearing a Ukrainian ribbon on her cap while on court, for example, to raise awareness of the country’s ongoing battle against Russian forces.
“I feel like it is a good way of reminding people there is still a war going on,” she said. “Many players have already started not to wear ribbons, they only did that at the beginning when the war started.
“Ukrainians are going to feel the impact of the war for many, many years so I wanted to be consistent in what I do and show the little support I can give.”