Women’s tennis crowned its newest brilliant teenager on Saturday as 19-year-old Iga Swiatek won the French Open by defeating American Sofia Kenin, 6-4, 6-1.
Unseeded and practically unheard of before the tournament, Swiatek breezed through Roland-Garros so coolly that she would have been easy to miss. Over the seven matches she took to claim her first Grand Slam title, she spent under 8.5 total hours on court. When her championship finally came, fewer than 1,000 people witnessed it in person due to coronavirus restrictions.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” she said on the court. “It’s crazy.”
But there was no denying her ruthless efficiency. By brushing aside Kenin in 84 minutes, Swiatek became the first woman to win the title without dropping a single set in the tournament since Justine Henin of Belgium 13 years ago. She is also the first Polish man or woman to win a Grand Slam singles title.
This final was emblematic of the youth movement sweeping through women’s tennis in the years following Serena Williams’s prime. Since Williams’s last Grand Slam title, at the 2017 Australian Open, nine of the 14 major tournaments have seen first-time winners. Half of them were 21 or younger at the time.
That includes Kenin, 21, who won the Australian Open in Melbourne earlier this year. And as of Saturday, it also includes Swiatek.
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