STUTTGART -- Iga Swiatek isn't your ordinary 21-year-old. And she wouldn't have it any other way.
Hours after winning her 13th title on the Hologic WTA Tour by successfully defending her crown at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, the World No.1 took to social media to post a celebratory series of messages about World Book Day. Since 1995, World Book Day is an annual event organized by UNESCO to promote the enjoyment of books and reading. It is celebrated on April 23 to honor William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, who all died on that day.
In January, Swiatek launched the "Read with Iga" challenge to her fans and followers, with the goal of encouraging them to read 12 books over the course of the year. As part of the project, Swiatek takes time between practices to film extensive oral book reports detailing her takeaways and learnings and posts them to Instagram.
"I want to motivate myself to read as much as I can because reading is what helps me maintain balance between my life and my work," Swiatek wrote in January.
Swiatek joined the WTA Insider Podcast after her winning week in Stuttgart to discuss her love of reading and why she hopes she can motivate her generation to put down their phones for an hour a day.
Listen to the full interview on the WTA Insider Podcast below:
WTA Insider: When did you discover your love of reading?
Swiatek: Probably when I was 17. It just made me feel less lonely in the world. It was just fun mixed with spending time well and getting to know the people that you read about. It's more like you felt like they are your friends.
WTA Insider: Is there a book that really opened your eyes to what books could do?
Swiatek: When I read the two Ken Follett trilogies, it was something else. I really, really liked it. They were so thick. Before I read these I didn't know that you can read so fast these books. On one hand they're kind of heavy, but I read them so quickly and it was so interesting and the longer it was, I just enjoyed it more.
So probably those. I read them I was 17.
But it's hard for me to choose one moment because I always read. I always enjoyed having that time to myself.
📚 You told me to read books instead of going online. Well, consider it done. I just finished this one ➡️ 2nd part of The Florios of Sicily (L'inverno dei leoni) #IGAreads #readwithIGA2023 https://t.co/2MhTBS7alN— Iga Świątek (@iga_swiatek) February 27, 2023
WTA Insider: You launched your book club in January. How's the reading going?
Swiatek: I just finished Matthew Perry's biography yesterday. Right now I want to try biographies, so I will read about Leonardo da Vinci next.
But I don't know what I'm going to choose for the reading challenge because I want to choose something that people are going to really enjoy and is going to be easy to read for someone who is working every day. They don't have time to read as much as I do. I travel, I'm trying to kill time before matches, so I'm aware that not many people are so lucky. And I want to choose something that is going to convince them to read more instead of watching TV.
WTA Insider: When it comes to choosing books for your reading challenge, what's your goal?
Swiatek: Just having fun in reading. Reading about people who can inspire you a little bit. And also getting more knowledge about the world.
It depends because I would say it's harder to convince the people who are older. If they are reading, obviously they know what they like and it's tough to give them something new. And they read a lot, so they have a lot more knowledge about books than me.
So I'm trying to convince people my age or younger because this is the age that you can start reading and read until the end of your life. And I think in the modern world, these people need that the most.
WTA Insider: How do you feel about bookstores?
Swiatek: I like to go there and see all the books and smell them. But in terms of buying, I want to be eco. So I'm torn between having all these books and enjoying them, and on the other hand, I know they're going to be on my bookshelf for a few years and no one is going to read them except for me. So I'm still torn.
🏆This feeling...it's something else this time…after many challenges during these last couple of weeks I’m so grateful to my team and our work. We will enjoy and cherish this one and then we will put even more work to move forward. pic.twitter.com/TEJIKBMpS0— Iga Świątek (@iga_swiatek) April 23, 2023
WTA Insider: You're headed to Madrid next week. It's the only big European clay tournament you haven't won once, let alone twice. Does that give you extra motivation?
Swiatek: Madrid is tricky with the altitude, so I'll see. I've only played twice at altitude. I may be World No.1 but I don't have as much experience in tennis as you may expect. So I'm just going to see. My coach is a guy with a lot of knowledge. So I'm sure he's going to help me manage that properly and get used to the conditions faster than I did in 2021.
Madrid is tricky so I'm not getting my expectations up. I just want to see how fast I can get used to the conditions. I really like the tournament in terms of the conditions and food. I'm going to eat some pulpo for sure.