At 21, World No. 1 Iga Swiatek continues to learn the tennis business

With two major tennis championship trophies in her case, world No. 1 ranking by name and the longest WTA winning streak this century, 21-year-old Iga Swiatek is quick to point out that she is still news for both tennis and the life that comes with it.

“First of all,” she says, “I’m still learning in both areas, tennis and business. It’s important to have a balance in all areas of my life and work. The side business gives me security, it allows me to play tennis and focus on that.”

Swiatek, who won her first major title, the French Open, at Roland Garros in 2020 followed that win with the 2022 French Open title. And in her 2022 run, the Polish player also racked up a 37-game winning streak, the longest this century. All of these victories propelled her to the top of the WTA world rankings. It happened fast for the player who now wears head-to-toe Asics apparel and footwear and with a signature Tecnifibre racquet.

“After winning my first title at Roland-Garros, I needed to grow in a very short time and learn how to function when I not only have sporting but also professional responsibilities,” she says. “That’s why I put together a team of sports and business professionals to have people I trust on board. I would say I learned quite quickly to operate in both areas because I’m able to handle any interviews, press conferences or photo shoots and it doesn’t interfere with my sprot performance.”

She credits her team and sponsors for prioritizing her well-being. “Tennis is everything, and we all have to be on the same page,” she said. “The business side works well when the sporting side is balanced and stable. That’s our motto.”

Swiatek says since winning the French Open in 2000 it has given him a head start in learning to manage expectations, especially in a win-filled 2022. With time to work through the processes, rules and framework with partners and colleagues, she says the goal was to stay happy and balanced in her career. “I don’t need to rush, to get as many sponsors as possible,” she says. “We do everything step by step, on and off the pitch.”

She knows that expectations will always be “too high” and she strives to manage them while respecting her priorities. With success comes opportunity. Swiatek has signed with Red Bull, Lexus and Rolex to accompany his equipment in the field. With such a powerful on-court game, Swiatek has translated this to help craft its own gear, whether it’s the France-based racquet maker’s signature frame or its apparel and footwear with Japan-based Asics.

Swiatek, who wears the Asics Gel-Resolution 8 tennis shoe and often opts for sleeveless tops with a skirt, remains the go-to tennis player for Asics.

“I’m fully involved because sportswear is one of the most important things in my job,” she says. “For example, just before the Billie Jean King Cup this year, I met the Asics team in Poland, and we were testing shoes and my clothes for next season.”

She wore trial gear and practiced on the court while the Asics team recorded the tennis session and asked questions. “After the practice, I shared my feedback with them and they applied my feedback,” she says. “It’s great because I feel Asics really cares about meeting my needs for my clothes and my shoes.”

But through all of tennis and the business of tennis, Swiatek says balance is key to making it all work. “When I don’t have time to read a book, I know I’m losing my work-life balance and have to go back to basics,” she says. “So reading books is definitely my passion. I love a lot of different genres, from novels to business-related books or biographies.”

His favorite place to browse these pages? Anywhere near water, so she can stand-up paddleboard between chapters. “No matter where I’m on tour, I always try to find a place where I can relax closer to nature,” she says, “and that’s something that gives me peace and makes me calmer .” This balance between tennis, business and relaxation has so far proven to be an important part of the young player’s career.

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