New world number one Iga Świątek said she cried for 40 minutes after learning of three-time grand slam champion Ash Barty’s shock retirement from tennis last month.
- Iga Świątek was officially confirmed as women’s tennis new world number one on Monday
- Świątek only needed to win her second round match at the Miami Open to take top spot, but won the title without dropping a set
- Świątek is the first Polish player to be crowned world number one, male or female
Świątek took over the top ranking on Monday after Barty decided to call time on her career at the age of 25.
“I was crying for 40 minutes,” Świątek told the BBC on Monday.
“Mainly, it was because of Ash’s retirement. I didn’t know it was going to happen and it really surprised me.
“I needed time to actually understand what she must have thought. Her decision was really brave and I felt a lot of emotions because of that.”
Świątek said she also became emotional after finding out that she could take over the top spot, which the 20-year-old Pole did after a second-round win at the Miami Open.
“I realized after two hours of being really emotional that ‘Hey, you don’t know what is going to happen yet and you still have to win some matches,'” Świątek said.
She eventually went on to lift the title in Miami without dropping a set, defeating four-time grand slam winner Naomi Osaka 6-4, 6-0 in the final.
The victory was her third consecutive trophy of the year after wins in Qatar and Indian Wells, making her the first woman to win the opening three WTA 1000 tournaments in a season.
Barty praised Świątek and said she “thoroughly deserves” the number one crown.
“She’s an incredible person, a great tennis player. The way that she’s brought this fresh, fearless energy onto the court has been incredible,” Barty was quoted as saying by the WTA.
Świątek added she was proud to be the first Polish player, female or male, to be crowned number one in singles.
“I usually don’t focus on numbers, on rankings, but this moment is huge to me,” she wrote on Twitter.
“I hope maybe one day there will be more of us in Poland playing tennis at the highest possible level. I’m extremely grateful that my work could be an inspiration for some people.
“And last but not least… I love the game and appreciate every moment of it these days.”