Iga Swiatek, the world’s leading tennis player, appealed for empathy and respect on the internet after a deluge of negative comments followed her recent victory against Zheng Qinwen at the Western & Southern Open. Despite her challenging start and eventual triumph with scores 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, Swiatek and her team were met with a barrage of criticism, to which she responded:
- “The amount of hate and criticism that I and my team get after even losing a set is just ridiculous.”
- “It’s kind of sad for me to see that people I work with and myself, we are really judged.”
- “Even though I didn’t start the match well, I would love for people to see how I problem-solved and how I really got out of trouble.”
Putting in Perspective: Swiatek’s Stellar Track Record
Swiatek’s recent comeback win marked her 52nd of the season, leading the tour. She has:
- Achieved 12 consecutive quarterfinals, the longest active streak.
- Secured four major titles this season in Doha, Stuttgart, Roland Garros, and Warsaw.
- Kept her number one position intact despite the odds.
One can’t help but wonder about the basis of these criticisms, especially given such an impressive resume. Speaking of her previous performances, Swiatek pointed out the need for holistic judgment. “After Dubai and Doha, when I won a tournament and then was in the final, I was pretty proud of my results, but people really kind of just saw the last match and that I lost in the final, and they shouldn’t,” she remarked.
Colleagues Echo Similar Sentiments
No.5 Ons Jabeur voiced her support and shared the sentiment, revealing the ubiquity of such undue criticism in the sport. Jabeur stated, “Honestly, you win, you lose, you get hate messages no matter what you do… They get criticized in media conferences like this and we move on.”
Championing Positive Change and Internet Safety
Swiatek took her press conference as an opportunity to urge journalists to be part of the solution. She asked them to promote positive narratives and shine a light on the relentless efforts athletes make behind the scenes. Additionally, she expressed her concern over the deteriorating state of online safety, observing an increase in hate and straightforwardly mean comments.
Throughout her rise to the top, Swiatek has championed various causes. From pushing for the use of extra-duty tennis balls during the North American summer hard-court swing to stressing the importance of player-friendly scheduling, she has been a consistent advocate for the well-being of the athletes.
Despite the hurdles and criticisms, Swiatek remains optimistic about her career and the broader tennis community. She emphasizes the necessity of viewing athletes’ performances in a balanced light, valuing their hard work and understanding that they always give their best. The 22-year-old tennis star remains positive, saying, “Sometimes I feel like it’s just unnecessary, and I’m always, you know, doing my best.”
In the next leg of her journey, Swiatek is set to face the reigning Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova, with hopes of reaching her first semifinal in Cincinnati. Read more on The Guardian.