PARIS, France, Jun 4 – Iga Swiatek received a standing ovation at Roland Garros on Saturday with an emotional “stay strong Ukraine” peace plea after winning her second French Open title.
The 21-year-old Pole was speaking after a 6-1, 6-3 win over Coco Gauff in only 68 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier, equalling Venus Williams’ record for the longest winning run by a woman in the 21st century.
“I wanted to say something to Ukraine, to stay strong, because the war is still there,” said Swiatek who has worn a ribbon in the colours of the Ukraine flag on her cap throughout the tournament.
“Since I made my speech in Doha (after winning the tournament in February) it had started and I was hoping when I do the next tournament speech the situation will be better but I will still have hope.”
Moments later, she told broadcaster NBC: “The war is still there and people are suffering.”
“Many players have taken off the (Ukraine) ribbons and there is huge discussion about next tournaments and points. It’s not about that but the whole situation there and I want people to be aware.”
Swiatek consoled 18-year-old Gauff, the youngest woman in a Slam final since Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004.
The American sobbed as she sat courtside at the end of the final and again on the trophy podium.
“First I want to congratulate Coco because you are doing an amazing job. You are progressing all the time. You will find it and you will be there I am pretty sure of that,” said the Pole.
“When I was your age, I was in my first year on tour and I didn’t know what I was doing.
“I want to thank my team, you guys, I mean, oh my god, without you I wouldn’t be here, I’m sure of that. I’m glad every piece has come together and we can do this. We deserve to be here. Thanks for your full support all the time no matter what.”
Gauff hoped to return to more Slam finals in the future.
“This is a first time for me so I’ll try to get through this,” she said on the podium.
“Congratulations Iga, what you have done these past few months has been amazing. Hopefully we can play many finals and I can get a win on you one of these days.
“Thank you to you guys in the crowd who supported me even when I was down. Even when I was down match points you guys cheered me on and that means a lot, so truly, thank you.”