Iga Swiatek praised by Ash Barty WTA

Grand Slam great advises Iga Swiatek to ‘keep the inner child alive’

Kim Clijsters feels seeing Iga Swiatek rise to the top has “been beautiful” to watch and advised the Polish star to “keep the inner child alive” and “not get caught up in an adult world.”

With Ash Barty’s shock retirement, 20-year-old Polish sensation Iga Swiatek recently became the new World number one after winning her opening Miami Open fixture.

Swiatek was already the only Polish player to win a Grand Slam but is now the only Polish player to become the World number one, a feat  that spans across both the ATP and WTA Tours.

The Pole has gone on to reach the Miami quarter-finals without dropping a set and has extended her winning run to 14 successive matches.

Should Swiatek take the Miami title it will also be her third consecutive Masters 1000 victory having won the Qatar Open before her Indian Wells victory.

Such a win would also see Swiatek complete the ‘Sunshine Double,’ a feat only three other women have achieved, including Clijsters.

In an interview with the WTA Tour’s website, four-time Grand Slam ace Clijsters said “to see Iga grow as a player, it’s been so beautiful for me.

“There’s a certain type of focus that’s on tennis, and tennis only. There’s a drive there that I admire very much – a drive that I recognize.

“She’s had great results in the past, but she still wants to improve. We’ve seen others that kind of take a step back and say ‘I’ve won a Slam now, I’ve made it. There’s sponsors coming in and I get treated like a princess wherever I go.’

“Just because you’re the number one player and have won Slams, doesn’t mean you should treat other people differently. I feel like Ash Barty did that amazingly, and I think Iga has that focus, too. There’s a still a lot of respect for the other people around her.”

Belgian icon Clijsters also offered some valuable advice to the Polish youngster, saying “I’d tell her to keep that inner child alive and not get caught up in an adult world.

“There’s a passion for the sport that we all developed at a young age. We all felt something when we held that racket and started hitting a ball.

“When you start worrying about the pressure – when that takes over – that’s when it becomes so hard,” Clijsters shared.

“People do look at you differently. Players want to beat the number one player more. Things change around you, but I don’t think she will change for it.

“There’s obviously a maturity in Iga as well, but you need to keep it fun, to keep it exciting. Keep that normalcy – if what we do can ever be considered normal.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.