As Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek prepares for her tournament debut at the Adelaide International, the 19-year-old got a pleasant surprise from another former teen phenom on social media: two-time Olympic gold medalist skier Mikaela Shiffrin.
In an interview posted by Tennis Channel, Swiatek discussed her respect for Shiffrin and how Swiatek's psychologist, Daria Abramowicz, frequently uses Shiffrin as an avatar for competitive resilience.
"She's just a good role model, and I really respect her."— TENNIS (@Tennis) February 20, 2021
Different sport. Same goals. ⛷️ 🎾@iga_swiatek talks becoming a new fan of @MikaelaShiffrin and looking up to the world champion skier.#AusOpen pic.twitter.com/kqHNKXM4F3
"It would be a dream come true [to meet her]," Swiatek told Tennis Channel. "I just really respect her. I feel like she's doing something different in sports. I'm not a big fan of skiing, I only watched her past season. My psychologist, when she's talking about psychology, she uses Mika as an example of behavior and attitude.
"She's a really good role model because she had her first Olympic appearance as a teenager and hopefully this year I'm also going to be at the Olympics. I also want to achieve great stuff.
"She's just a good role model. I really respect her."
Swiatek was stunned to see Shiffrin respond.
I didn't expect that...🙊— Iga Świątek (@iga_swiatek) February 22, 2021
Thank you for sharing your experience. It means a lot especially that I feel that you've been in this place.
I didn't watch @cortina2021 because there was no chance here in Australia but I followed every run and every news. You rock!🙌 https://t.co/m3GVXoktN7
".@iga_swiatek thanks for the huge compliment. Also, congrats on the 2020 French Open win," Shiffrin wrote. "Was an amazing match to watch and huge testament to your own physical+mental fortitude. I have learned a lot from watching your point play and composure during that match and since then.
"From my perspective, the mental game is always a work in progress with ups and downs but don’t forget that’s also just a part of life. We are all human, on good days and bad, and sometimes you will feel like the world expects you to only have good days and win everything, not understanding how much it takes just to win ONE competition, let alone EVERY competition.
"Since you are not a machine, there will be losses that hurt but we learn from the losses more than the wins AND one person's loss can be another person’s win."
Swiatek is set to play her third event of the season in Adelaide, facing Madison Brengle in the first round. Playing her first major since winning in Paris, Swiatek progressed to her second consecutive Round of 16 at the Australian Open, where she lost in three-sets to Simona Halep.
Swiatek was disappointed and frustrated by her performance against Halep when she spoke to reporters in Melbourne, but with days to reflect and process the match, she has a different perspective.
"Well, basically after my match with Simona, I was really mad at myself because I felt like I made a lot of mistakes and unforced errors in the second and third set," Swiatek told reporters in Adelaide.
"When I went to the press conference on the match, it wasn't enough time for me to realize that she just played her best tennis. And after analyzing, I confirmed to myself that it was a really good match and that day I did the most of what I could do.
Iga Swiatek, who watched a few games of Serena-Naomi from inside RLA, on @naomiosaka’s #AusOpen title run:— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) February 22, 2021
"I also watched finals and, yeah, I'm really happy that Naomi won. I feel like she's pretty strong right now and that's her place to be. So it's great." pic.twitter.com/WrIN5sjQhV
"We have been working since then on some details, like receive and placement of serve. But there is not magic I can change because I feel like I played pretty good tennis in Melbourne and also right now."
"Usually after Grand Slams I came back home to rest because I felt that the Grand Slam is really intense time. So that's the first time I'm playing a tournament right after and I feel like really well. So hopefully maybe I'm kind of growing up and right now I'm going to be ready to play week by week.
"There's no pressure because I feel like I'm playing good tennis. And I am probably going to play a lot of tournaments this year, so I don't need to hurry and win right now. I just want to enjoy being on court and we're basically working on some details."
Reflecting on the start of her season so far, Swiatek is pleased with how she's handled her transition.
"I would say it's successful because I know how hard this pre-season was for me and how my situation changed," Swiatek said. "I didn't have a lot of calm time during my pre-season, it was so hectic, and knowing that, I feel pretty happy with my performance.
"Obviously after winning a Grand Slam you want more than the fourth round, but I played against Simona, and as I said, I played my best tennis, so I'm happy."