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Sport

Poland's Swiatek settles into celebrity status and eyes more silverware

WARSAW (Reuters) - Iga Swiatek went from being a largely unknown teenager to suddenly acquiring celebrity status after winning the French Open in October - and the Pole is now confident she can go on to win all the Grand Slam titles in her career.

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Swiatek was ranked no. 54 in the world when she entered the rescheduled French Open in September, but went on to secure an upset by beating Sofia Kenin in the final to become the first Polish player to win a Grand Slam singles title.

Now, the 19-year-old has had to adapt quickly to her new-found fame with new sponsorship deals, training offers and a deluge of media requests.

However, she remains grounded - even if her dream of winning all four majors is now a real possibility.

“I now have faith that I could win all four Grand Slams in my career, it always seemed so far away before... I’m happy I achieved this but on the inside I still feel the same,” she told Reuters in a phone interview on Saturday.

Although the focus has been quite intense since her triumph at Roland Garros, Swiatek said the COVID-19 restrictions in place in Poland have helped.

“My whole life has been turned upside down, so I needed some time to get used to it,” she said.

“The pandemic helps a bit in this aspect because it happens that people on the street who want photos and autographs, they are now less pushy.”

The teenager, whose father was an Olympic rower and mother a doctor, was the first Polish woman to reach the final at Roland Garros in 81 years and the first at any major since Agnieszka Radwanska at Wimbledon in 2012.

So far, she said she is handling the pressure well, getting by with a little help from her friends.

Japanese U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka, 23, had reached out to offer advice if needed, and Swiatek pointed to others from her age group, “like (Slovenian tennis player) Kaja Juvan who has always been a huge support for me for the last few years.”

But, as she prepares to start training again, Swiatek said she’s concentrating on consistency first instead of immediately eyeing up more silverware.

“My last season shows that... I can lose in the first round or win the French Open. This stability in my game will be something I need to work on, this is my main goal... We can still work on everything because I’m only 19-years-old,” she said.

Additional reporting by Alicja Ptak; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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