"I was accused of crying during matches. Today I am considered a model of mental fortitude on the court," Swiatek reflects on mental strength

Tuesday, 25 June 2024 at 00:00
Iga Swiatek is indisputably the world No. 1 and has become the most dominant player on the Tour. Her recent French Open title was her fifth Grand Slam, adding to her incredible performance over the past 52 weeks, during which she also secured five WTA 1000 titles, the WTA Finals, and the WTA 250 in her hometown of Warsaw.
The 23-year-old Polish player recently answered an interview in Zwierciadlo alongside her sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz, reflecting together on their work to manage the stress of the Tour and improve her on-court mentality.

Swiatek on her mental growth

For Iga Swiatek, her support team, including Polish sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz, is crucial. The world No. 1 has become a reference not just for her dominant game but also for her mental strength, which has been fundamental in maintaining her top results over the years.
Despite being known for easily winning matches with frequent bagels, in the past 52 weeks, Swiatek has won a bagel set (6-0) 20 times and another 38 sets by 6-1, leading the statistic. Nonetheless, the Pole also knows how to come back when matches are against her, like the recent WTA 1000 Madrid Open final, where she saved a match point to win the title against Aryna Sabalenka.
"Three or four years ago, I was called very emotional, accused of crying during matches. Today, I am considered a model of mental fortitude on the court, and I am not afraid to say that this opinion is well-deserved. I know how much work it takes: my work and Daria's. It didn't happen overnight," Swiatek explained about her work with the psychologist.
Swiatek won her 4th French Open title few weeks ago.
"I first learned to recognize, name, and express my emotions. Then I identified the sources of tension. At the same time, Daria and I were constantly looking for optimal tools that would allow me to reach the level of stimulation and stress that worked for me. Because it's not that I want to reduce the tension to zero. I need it on the court to achieve a high level of performance."
"It's simply about taking care of oneself: proper rest, proper management of the sports load, and many other responsibilities. I couldn't face such a demanding sport as tennis alone; it would be difficult for me. That's why I have a team of people behind me, great specialists in their fields. Each one is responsible for a different piece of the puzzle that fans see on the court. To give my best, every element has to work."

Abramowicz on Supporting Swiatek

Abramowicz commented on how she has supported Swiatek with different strategies, including encouraging the player to play with LEGOs to distract from stress: "In my work with Iga, I combine elements related to belief work, emotion regulation, and using adaptive strategies. I try to provide her with resources so that in every situation she finds herself in, she feels she can handle it."
"We also often use things that, besides their effect on the court, also bring some pleasure. For example, building with LEGO bricks: a very simple activity but very relaxing and satisfying because we are creating something. Additionally, there are also various games, logic puzzles, and cards. Everything else is a 'company secret.'"
Swiatek added that playing with LEGOs is indeed a recurring activity that helps her relieve tension: "Yes, building with blocks is good mindfulness training, especially when I focus on the next steps in the instructions and isolate myself from all external stimuli. It also stimulates creative thinking and helps me relax in a rather pleasant way."

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