PARIS, France - In the aftermath of a 'life-changing' fortnight in Paris, newly-crowned French Open champion Iga Swiatek is aiming to keep her feet firmly on the ground.
While a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Australian Open Sofia Kenin in Saturday's final marked a whole host of milestones for the 19-year-old — from making her the first Polish woman to win a Grand Slam singles title, to assuring her of a Top 20 debut — the teenager is hoping that the unflappable mentality she showed on the terre battue will serve her well moving forward into a new reality.
Read the match report: Swiatek seals Kenin, surges to maiden major title in Paris
"I'm just proud of myself. I've done a great job past two weeks. I wasn't expecting to win this trophy. It's obviously amazing for me. It's a life-changing experience," the 19-year-old said after Saturday's final.
"It's hard to comment on that right now because I need to come back home first, see what's going on in Poland. I know it's going to be crazy. I think I'm going to get used to that, it's not going to be a problem for me. I didn't have problem with getting attention, with people surrounding me. I think it's going to be okay for me.
"I really appreciate all the support I got during whole two weeks. Even though I wasn't on my phone and I wasn't answering every person, I know that the whole country was behind me and they all believed in me. I'm going to be happy and proud."
💥🙈It's hard to describe how special this day is for me. It's so strange to achieve something that seemed so distant... But yup... It's here - I'm a grand slam champion (whaaat?). Thank you @SofiaKenin for this final. I wish you all the best.💥🙈 #RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/ktIShQZLnj— Iga Świątek (@iga_swiatek) October 10, 2020
Speaking openly and candidly over the course of the Paris two weeks about the work she does with her traveling sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz, Swiatek also revealed in her post-championship press conference how the recent success of other young players on the game's biggest stages helped set the stage for her.
"Even though you're really young and you're an underdog, you can do a lot in a sport like tennis," she said. "On one hand, it's [the wins of other young players] pretty inspiring.
"Sometimes, I caught myself visualizing that I'm also winning a Grand Slam. But on the other hand it was also really far away. Right now, when I'm here and I'm a Grand Slam champion, it's crazy.
"You believe in things, but in the back of your head you know that there's going to be a huge amount of work that you have to do to win that. Then after two weeks of great playing, you already have it. It's just overwhelming.
"I use everything that my psychologist taught me during a match. For sure, I'm doing the biggest work on the court... I think there is a huge role. I can see the difference when I'm mentally prepared and I'm ready to handle the stress, the pressure. I can see the difference where I can't. That's why I'm sometimes losing in first round and sometimes I can win a tournament."
By capturing a Grand Slam title, something never done by Poland's previous standard-bearer Agnieszka Radwanska, Swiatek has already written herself into both tennis' history books and those for sport in her country overall.
Despite that, the Raszyn resident says that it's only the beginning, and that she has a long way to go to match the career résumé of her country's best player, who ranked in the world's Top 10 for nearly a decade and peaked at World No.2.
"I just feel like I kind of made history. But I still think that Radwanska, she achieved a lot because she played on the top level of WTA for, I don't know, 12 years. I don't even know the number," she added.
"I know there's going to be a lot of people who are going to compare us. But I think I have to be really consistent for the next couple years to everybody to name me the best player in Poland, because still I have a lot to do. Still I think that's kind of her place."
"Really, I feel like I can do progress in most of the things because I'm only 19. I know my game isn't developed perfectly. I think the biggest change for me is going to be to be consistent.
"That's why my goal is going to be to be consistent. It's going to be really hard to achieve that. Right now, I'm just going to enjoy the moment. I'm going to think about my future goals later."