With two major championship tennis trophies in her case, the World No. 1 ranking by her name and the longest WTA win streak this century, 21-year-old Iga Swiatek is quick to point out that she’s still new to both tennis and the life that comes with it.
“First of all,” she says, “I’m still learning in both areas, tennis and business. It’s important to have balance in every area of my life and work. The business side gives me safety, it enables me to play tennis and be focused on that.”
Swiatek, who won her first major title, the French Open, at Roland-Garros in 2020 followed up that win with the 2022 French Open title. And during her 2022 run, the Polish player also amassed a 37-match winning streak, the longest this century. All that winning propelled her to the top of the WTA world rankings. It has come fast for the player now wearing head-to-toe Asics apparel and shoes and with a signature racket from Tecnifibre.
“After winning my first Roland-Garros title I needed to grow up in a very short time and learn how to operate when I have not only sports but business responsibilities, too,” she says. “This is the reason why I built a team of sports and business professionals to have people I can trust on board. I would say I learned quite fast how to operate in both areas because I’m able to manage all the interviews, press conferences or photoshoots and it doesn’t interfere with my sports performance.”
She credits her team and sponsors with prioritizing her well-being. “Tennis is a foundation of everything, and we all need to be on the same page,” she says. “The business side works well when the sports side is balanced and stable. This is our motto.”
Swiatek says that since winning the French Open in 2000, it gave her a head start on learning to manage expectations, especially during the win-filled 2022 year. With time to work on processes, rules and framework with partners and co-workers, she says the goal was to remain happy and balanced in her career. “I don’t need to rush, to have as many sponsors as possible,” she says. “We’re doing everything step by step, on and off the court.”
She knows that expectations will always be “too high,” and she works to manage them while minding her priorities. With success comes opportunity. Swiatek has signed with the likes of Red Bull, Lexus and Rolex to go with her on-court gear. With such a powerful on-court game, Swiatek has translated that to help craft her own gear, whether the signature frame from the French-based racket maker or her apparel and footwear with Japanese-based Asics.
Swiatek, who wears the Asics Gel-Resolution 8 tennis shoe and often opts for sleeveless tops with a skirt, remains the pinnacle female tennis player for Asics.
“I’m fully involved because sports apparel is one of the most important things in my work,” she says. “For instance, right before the Billie Jean King Cup this year I met with the Asics team in Poland, and we were testing shoes and my apparel for the next season.”
She was wearing trial gear and training on court while the Asics team recorded the tennis session and asked questions. “After the practice I shared my feedback with them and they applied my comments,” she says. “This is great because I feel Asics is really keen on taking care of my needs regarding my clothes and shoes.”
But through all the tennis and the business of tennis, Swiatek says balance is the key to making it all work. “When I don’t have time to read a book, I know that I’m losing my work-life balance and I need to get back to basics,” she says. “So, definitely reading books is my passion. I like many different genres from novels to business-related books or biographies.”
Her favorite spot to take in those pages? Anywhere close to water, so she can mix in stand-up paddle boarding between chapters. “No matter where I am on tour, I always try to find a place where I can relax closer to nature,” she says, “and this is something that gives me peace and makes me calmer.” That balance in tennis, business and relaxation has so far proved an important piece in the young player’s career.