Over the last four months Iga Swiatek has appeared to have the world at her feet.
Three tournaments won on hard courts, followed by three on clay, including the French Open, and a dazzling 35-match winning streak that equals Venus Williams’ mark for the best on the WTA Tour this century. "She has something, not a superpower, but something special,” said world No. 5 Maria Sakkari in April. “She has special hands. She has magic,” added world No. 4 Paula Badosa.
The aura around Swiatek has continued to grow as she has stacked up win after win.
US Open
When is the US Open? How to watch tournament and who is playing
Such an aura has been rare in women’s tennis over the last few years. Swiatek’s predecessor as world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty looked to be establishing herself as a potential ‘unbeatable’ force before she retired in April; before her the last player to have such a stranglehold was Serena Williams, who could face Swiatek in the first round at Wimbledon after being given a wildcard, and who is the last woman to win the two European Grand Slams in the same season.
Only six other women - Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf and five men – Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic – have achieved the French Open-Wimbledon double in the Open Era.
In recent years the transition to grass has not been too kind to French Open champions either.
Since Williams won both, along with the Australian Open, in 2015, Simona Halep lost in the third round at Wimbledon in 2018 after winning the French Open. The following year Barty was beaten in the fourth round at Wimbledon after triumphing in Paris. Wimbledon was not held when Swiatek first won the French Open in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but last year’s Roland-Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova lost in the fourth round at SW19 in 2021.
There are several reasons why it's so difficult.
Firstly: time. The tour switches straight from clay to grass after the French Open and there are just three weeks to prepare on the surface for Wimbledon. Even though that is longer than previously – it used to be just a fortnight - those three weeks are likely the only time, outside of Wimbledon, that most players will compete on grass in the entire season. Swiatek has not played competitively on grass yet this summer after pulling out of Berlin with a shoulder issue.
The transition is made trickier by the differences in the conditions. While grass is not as fast and serve-volley friendly as it was once was, the ball still comes through quicker and lower than on clay. That means less time for big backswings and less time to recover between shots. Heavy topspin shots, which Swiatek hits a lot of the time on her forehand, are also not as effective on grass as they are on clay.
“With the lower bounces, it’s a crapshoot,” nine-time Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova told the WTA Tour.
“You cannot be taking such a massive swing. If you get a bad bounce, you can’t adjust to it. You have to shorten everything, maybe a little bit lower backswing, maybe a little bit shorter backswing, a little more inside the court.

Clay queen Swiatek’s best shots from the French Open

“Also the cadence is a little bit different with the shorter bounce. The ball comes back quicker, so there’s less time between shots to get ready for the next shot. So you have to be in slightly better cardio shape to keep that intensity getting to the ball.”
While from the outset Swiatek may look more vulnerable, it’s notable that even though most French Open women’s winners have failed to tack on a Wimbledon title in the same year, several players have won both tournaments in close succession.
Halep was victorious at Wimbledon in 2019, having won the French Open the previous year. Barty was champion at the All England Club in 2021 after winning in Paris in 2019. Garbine Muguruza won the French Open in 2016 and Wimbledon the year after.

Iga Swiatek Wimbledon 2021

Image credit: Getty Images

It would almost continue the trend if Swiatek won Wimbledon this time around, having lost in the fourth round last year as 2020 French Open champion. The world No. 1 has had success at the tournament before, winning the junior girls’ title in 2018. And the huge gap between herself and the rest of the field (a gulf displayed as 4,120 points between first place and second place in the WTA rankings, and 4,300 points from first to second on the Race to the WTA Finals rankings) suggests that Swiatek likely doesn’t even have to be at her very best to win Wimbledon.
Even if she drops off a bit she will probably still be good enough to beat most of her rivals, especially as the competition seems to be struggling to find ways to beat her right now.
Swiatek has described grass as “tricky”, but will have help trying to master it from her coach Tomasz Wiktorowski, who was with another Pole, Agnieszka Radwanska, during her run to the Wimbledon final in 2012. Wiktorowski says he has no doubt that Swiatek can adapt to the surface.
“The key is a different bounce of the ball from the surface, much lower on grass,” he told Rzeczpospolita.
“Navigating the court is different too, but that's not what I'm worried about at all. Iga will have to use slightly different directions when hitting the ball, as well as in the serve, in the context of the balance between the slice service and the kick service. She has the best kick-serve in the world, but it doesn't always work on grass.
“So if we lose here, we have to add something else. But one thing is beyond doubt: Iga can play on the grass, because she has reached the fourth round of Wimbledon. We will only try to make small modifications that should make her life easier on this surface.
“Iga has enough strengths to also win on grass.”
As Wiktorowski points out, Swiatek showed last year that she can play on grass by making the fourth round at SW19 in impressive style, only dropping five games in the second and third rounds combined. And even defeat to Ons Jabeur was part of a learning experience. “This grass season is really a positive for me and it gave me a lot,” said Swiatek afterwards. “I hope I’m going to use that in future years.”

Swiatek 'proud' of French Open title and 'doing more than Serena'

Jabeur, who bounced back from her shock first-round French Open exit with victory on grass in Berlin last week, could be one of Swiatek’s biggest rivals at Wimbledon, along with French Open runner-up Coco Gauff, who has made the fourth round in both her previous appearances, and Karolina Pliskova, who lost to Barty in the final last year. Williams’ shock return also spices up the draw and a first career meeting between the 23-time Grand Slam champion and Swiatek would be incredibly intriguing.
Williams is a seven-time champion at Wimbledon but has never entered the tournament in such a rich vein of form as Swiatek, whose winning streak has the potential to stretch to 42 matches if she wins Wimbledon, above Roger Federer’s best-ever effort of 41, and one behind Djokovic’s best of 43.
For the last few months the question has been who can stop Swiatek, now it’s: can the switch to grass stop her? The rest of the tour will be hoping it at least levels the playing field a bit.
- - -
Watch daily highlights from Wimbledon at 10pm on Eurosport 2 and discovery+ from June 27, as well as the two singles finals live on July 9 and 10.
WTA Cincinnati
'I would love it' - Swiatek desperate for chance to play Serena in Cincinnati
WTA Cincinnati
Raducanu relishing ‘amazing opportunity’ to play Serena at Cincinnati Masters