World No.1 Iga Swiatek has done a remarkable job stepping into Ashleigh Barty's shoes after the former No.1's sudden retirement in April. The 21-year-old Polish star has not lost a match since taking over the top spot on the Hologic WTA Tour. 

On Tuesday at Wimbledon, Swiatek will once again step into Barty's shoes. With the retirement of the defending champion, Swiatek has been given the honor of opening play on Centre Court. It is an honor made even more special this year, as Wimbledon celebrates 100 years of Centre Court in its current location.

"I know that there have been some discussions about who should open, and I feel really privileged that I've been chosen," Swiatek told reporters at Media Day. "There are many players here who have won Wimbledon and had a great tournament. I wasn't expecting that because still I only made it to the fourth round last year and that's my best result.

"I feel privileged and proud of myself mostly. Hopefully it's going to be a good show."

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As it turned out, Barty was in a similar position last summer when Simona Halep, then the defending champion, was unable to play due to injury. As the reigning No.1 and former junior champion, Barty was asked to take her spot. The Australian went on to win the title. 

The parallels are hard to ignore. Swiatek, too, was a junior champion just four years ago. But despite her streak of 35 consecutive wins and six consecutive titles, including the French Open three weeks ago, the studious Pole is still learning how to win on grass.

Streaks, milestones and what's at stake at Wimbledon 2022

"Honestly, I still feel like I need to figure out grass," Swiatek said. "Last year for sure, it was that kind of tournament where I didn't know what to expect. Then match by match I realized maybe I can do more and more.

"This is one reason why I feel like I don't want to focus on the streak, like winning more matches. I just want to realize what's going on on grass, how to play the best kind of tennis on it."

"Well, when I saw her yesterday, I was pretty overwhelmed."

- Iga Swiatek on Serena Williams

If there's one person who could offer Swiatek some advice on how to play "the best kind of tennis" on grass it's Serena Williams. But that might take some time. First, Swiatek has to muster up the courage to say hello to the seven-time Wimbledon champion.

"Well, when I saw her yesterday, I was pretty overwhelmed," Swiatek said. "I felt like I am still kind of new on WTA. I didn't know how to react perfectly. I wanted to meet her. I saw that she had so many people around her. I don't know her team. It was pretty weird. 

"So, yeah, I came back to myself a few years earlier when I was too shy to say hi to anybody for a second. But I feel that just seeing her around is great because she's such a legend. There's nobody that has done so much in tennis."

Swiatek will open her tournament against Croatian qualifier Jana Fett. The two have never played. Swiatek has won her last nine matches against qualifiers and carries a 12-1 record in the first round of Slams. 

Swiatek has done well to keep the stats from getting to her head. She handled the pressure of playing as the heavy favorite at Roland Garros, losing just one set en route to her second major title. She's proven to herself and everyone else that she belongs at the top of the game. Now she can just swing freely and take Wimbledon as another learning experience, regardless of result. 

"For sure when it happened in Miami, I still felt like I remember how it is to have to play against Ash, how you feel that she has so much variety and much more options than you. I felt like I still needed some time to prove to myself that this is the right place to be.

"But I was able to show so much consistency. I didn't do any big mistakes during Stuttgart, Rome, Roland Garros. I realized maybe I am in the right place.

"Right now, for sure the next goal is to stay here."

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