Off the court, Swiatek has also charmed tennis fans around the world with her down-to-earth nature and lightly caustic sense of humor. So it makes sense that her most exciting celebrity sighting at this year’s U.S. Open—well, apart from taking a photo with Serena Williams—was Matthew Perry, known to many as Chandler in Friends, or “the king of sarcasm,” as Swiatek puts it. (“Could this BE any more exciting,” Swiatek tweeted the following day.) With her specific brand of good-natured charisma—and her U.S. Open victory, which firmly proved that her prowess extends beyond the clay courts once assumed to be her comfort zone—for Swiatek, the sky is now the limit.
Here, Swiatek tells Vogue about her extraordinary rise to the top at the U.S. Open, the importance of establishing relationships with fellow players on the tour, and the challenges of balancing tennis with the causes she feels passionate about.
Vogue: First things first, congratulations! How have you been celebrating over the past 24 hours?
Iga Swiatek: I haven’t really stopped since. I did get to go see Hamilton last night, but apart from that it’s mostly been media obligations, so I’m looking forward to having a chance to lie down and watch some TV and read some books again.
I saw you on the Today Show with your trophy—I assume you haven’t had to lug that around with you on the streets of New York all day.
Yeah, it’s pretty weird actually, just walking around New York with it. [Laughs.] For the Today Show I had to carry it around a little bit, but normally I’m not walking around with it, I’m trying to keep it casual. It’s pretty nice that I can walk around on the streets and not get recognized too much, because it’s good to have some peaceful time after such an intense tournament. I was also able to go walk around Central Park a bit, so I’m happy.
You’ve had such an incredible year, but going into the U.S. Open, did you have any expectations or specific goals you were hoping to achieve?
I would say that my expectations were higher before the U.S. Open swing than they were right before the tournament itself. The first part of the season was so amazing for me, and I was so consistent and had this winning streak. It was very surreal, but it also created this feeling that I really had to perform at my very best in every match. So after Roland Garros, I needed a few tournaments to let those feelings settle down and change my attitude a bit, and I feel like I managed to do that just before the U.S. Open, so that was perfect timing. Also, the conditions here not being my favorite helped, because I realized that I had already done so much this year, and I didn’t really have anything left to chase. I won those tournaments in the first part of the season, and actually, I’m satisfied with that. That allowed me to play more freely. The U.S. Open felt like the first tournament since Roland Garros where I felt very free.