April 27, 2021

Episode 114: Iga Swiatek - Teenage Grand Slam Champion

Episode 114: Iga Swiatek - Teenage Grand Slam Champion

Iga Swiatek is the 2020 French Open Champion and world number 17.

At just 19 years of age, she became the lowest-ranked woman to reach the final at Roland Garros since rankings began. She also became the first Polish tennis player ever to win a Grand Slam singles title. Not only that, but Iga didn´t drop a set along the way.

Iga talks to Control the Controllables about her incredible journey from a young tennis player to becoming a Grand Slam champion as a teenager. She reveals how she felt at the time and afterwards, and talks about the impact her Father, an Olympic rower, has had on her career.

A successful junior, in 2018 she won junior Grand Slam doubles titles at Roland Garros and the US Open, as well as the girls singles titles at Wimbledon.

Iga has been training at SotoTennis Academy for 9 days as she prepares for the 2021 Clay court season. She tells Dan how she´s feeling now she´s returning no longer as an underdog, but as a Grand Slam Champion.

Here are some of the highlights of the episode:-

[7:49] Iga talks about the impact her Father who is an Olympic rower has had on her tennis journey.

[13:28] Iga tells Dan when she realized that she wanted to be a Pro tennis player.

[14:44] Iga looks back at winning Roland Garros last year and what was going through her mind.

[17:58] Dan asks Iga if she had moments of thinking she could win, or if she was able to stay in the process.

[20:40] Iga discusses her decision to travel with a sports psychologist and how important that´s been.

[23:10] Iga describes how the relationship with her Coach, 2020 Coach of the Year started by accident.

[26:05] Iga tells us her hopes for the 2021 Clay Court season.

[27:47] Listen to what Iga will look back on as success in her tennis career.

 

Connect

Follow Iga Swiatek on Twitter: @iga_swiatek  

Follow Iga Swiatek on Instagram: @iga.swiatek 

Follow Control the Controllables on Instagram: @ctc.podcast.com

Follow SotoTennis Academy on Instagram: @sototennis

We would love to hear what you think of the episode! 

Rate, review and subscribe to Control the Controllables on Apple Podcasts. Your reviews really do go a long way! 

You can also email us directly at info@sototennis.com 

 

Enjoyed our chat with Iga? You may also like listening to these episodes….

Episode 108: Holger Rune – No Doubt  

Episode 93: Dasha Kasatkina – Tik Tok..it won´t be long will she´s back at the top!

Episode 72: Domink Koepfer – The Outlier 

Episode 25: John Millman – The journeyman..or is he? 

 

Check out all latest from SotoTennis Academy here! 

Transcript

Transcript: Episode 114: Iga Swiatek - Teenage Grand Slam Champion

 

Dan Kiernan: Welcome to Control the Controllables. I'm Dan Kiernan from SotoTennis Academy in Spain, and we´ve teamed up with Macx Tennis Academy in Ireland. We've brought this podcast together to entertain, educate, and energize the tennis community through the different lenses of the sport that we love. From Grand Slam champions to those at grassroots level, from sports journalists to backroom staff, our aim is truly to get under the bonnet of the tennis world at all levels. So sit back and enjoy the show. 

Dan Kiernan: Welcome to Episode 114 of Control the Controllables. It's taken us 114 episodes to get to our first singles Grand Slam champion. 

Iga Swiatek: I was really happy and really proud of myself because, when I was younger, it was, you know, it was my, my dream, but never my goal because I, I didn't actually think that it was possible for me to win a Grand Slam. So when it happened, I was really like relieved and also proud that I could do this. I surprised myself, you know.

Dan Kiernan: For those of you that are thinking I recognise that voice, who is that? It is Iga Swiatek, the French Open champion in 2020, aged 19 years old. And we have been very fortunate to have Iga training at SotoTennis Academy for the last few days. And I've had the opportunity to really get to know her quite well. She's an incredible young girl who happens to be world-class at playing tennis, and she's going to entertain you for the next 30 minutes. There's some fantastic insights. And just having the opportunity to talk to a Grand Slam champion, there really are a select few in our sport and so listen carefully, see what you can take from it. I know I took a lot from the conversation. I also want to take this chance to thank 116 of you that have rated us on Apple podcasts. 

Dan Kiernan: And also all of you that have written such fantastic reviews about the podcast. We do really appreciate you taking the time and giving back to the pod. Those of you that haven't done that yet, we still love you as well. However, if you could take 30, 60 seconds out of your day and let's see over the next few weeks if we can get it up to 200 ratings on the pod, it makes a difference. It helps get it into the right hands and it would be much appreciated. But without any further ado, I'm going to pass you over to IGA. 

Dan Kiernan: So Iga Swiatek a big welcome to Control the Controllables. How you doing?

Iga Swiatek: Very good, how are you? 

Dan Kiernan: I´m very well. It's a bit strange seeing you across a computer when I know that you´re just sitting down the roads in an apartment here in Sotogrande.

Iga Swiatek: That's true, but, I'm really happy that you invited me for the podcast and hopefully we're going to have a great conversation, and yeah, we're going to see each other today on the courts probably. 

Dan Kiernan: Absolutely. Well it's great to have you, and I have to start by saying how has your week been? You've been here now for four or five days in Sotogrande, how are you finding it?

Iga Swiatek: It was really, really intense. I mean, I love the city, but actually only yesterday we had an opportunity to actually, you know, go out and see something because I had the day off and usually I have you know, two 2 hours practices. So, I'm really tired between the practises and after. So yesterday was the first time to, you know, to kind of feel how it is to be out of the bubble, not in tournaments and actually rest a little bit and do some active recovery. But I love it here because I can actually focus on the work and I don't have like many factors coming in that I have in Warsaw and I think it was a really good decision to come here. 

Dan Kiernan: That's great, well it's been great having you, and now I have to ask you Iga has anybody recognised you, outside of the Academy?

Iga Swiatek: No, I don't think so, but you know with COVID it´s really hard with the masks and everything. So in Warsaw sometimes people do recognise me. Actually last, last time, some women recognised me by my voice, which was kinda weird, but, yeah, when I have a mask on and when I'm not wearing, I don't know, sports outfits it's harder for people to recognise me. So no, it doesn't happen really often actually.

Dan Kiernan: I was going to say it might be quite nice being in a place I would imagine in Poland, especially after Roland Garros, that things just kind of skyrocketed in terms of your, your profile. 

Iga Swiatek: That's true. But, you know, I really like it and it's actually one of the things I have worked for. So, from the beginning I was aware of that when I'm going to succeed in something like that, that it´s gonna happen. And, you know, I was kind of like ready for that. I was more ready for that than for my own expectations ater the French Open. So, I'm not worried about it and I really like the popularity and actually people are really, even when I lose there, my fans are treating me really nicely. So I really appreciate it and I feel like they understand a lot about sports and that's the most important thing because, you know, I don't need any more pressure from, from other people. 

Dan Kiernan: No, no, absolutely. And Iga on the podcast, we always, I think one of the things people love to hear, and obviously you're still only 19- years-old and, you know, have already achieved so much in the game, but where did your tennis journey start? How old were you, where was it at and you know, how quickly did it become your passion?

Iga Swiatek: So I started earlier than most of the players probably because my older sister played and she's three years older. So when I was like, four, I was probably you know at the tennis club and running around and just, you know, annoying her. So, after a few years, I started group lessons than individual lessons, but, the most important person was not my sister, but my Dad, because he was the one that showed us tennis. He was the one that was driving us to all the tennis lessons. So I really appreciate his help. and then it kind of, you know, developed step by step. I started playing tournaments in Poland, then in Europe Under 14, Under 16 and then Junior Grand Slams and suddenly became really close, you know, to being a pro tennis player.

Dan Kiernan: And to pull you back a little bit, you mentioned your Dad who I know, I believe was an Olympic rower, so he was very, he was a very successful sportsman in his own right. Was he the one that almost gave you the dedication and showed you the way to being a professional athlete?

Iga Swiatek: For sure, like most of the, my features of character that are, you know, important in sports, he was the one that really showed us how to be professional and how to, you know, really act like someone who wants to be a professional. So when we were younger, it was really important for us to have that kind of person, and even though he wasn't our coach, he was just raising us in that way. And that was really amazing because it wasn't hard for me later to, you know, combine school and education with sports and yeah, it's because of him basically. So I really appreciate it right now, maybe when I was younger it was hard, because it took a lot of discipline and just focusing on own goals. But, right now I think it was the perfect way to do that. 

Dan Kiernan: But is there the danger that sometimes we see in tennis or in sport, when there is a parent that is very dedicated and disciplined and has achieved so much themselves, that they can almost push people away from the sport as well?

Iga Swiatek: Well, you know, it depends on the person I guess, and on how they approach sports. We always had some kind of plan plan B, so it wasn't like you have to play tennis because, you know, I was a rower and I want you to be a professional player. It wasn't like that. It was more like school is your priority right now, I would love for you to play tennis someday, maybe professional, but, you know, it isn't easy and many people, when they're teenagers, they're stopping. Like my sister actually, she had some injuries and she couldn't play later. So, I think he was aware that there's more probability that it's not gonna happen, than I'm going to win a Gran Slam!So it it was his dream for sure, but I don't feel like we had pressure like huge pressure around us. 

Dan Kiernan: Okay. And what role does he now play within the team?

Iga Swiatek: Oh, you know, it's different because right now I'm traveling with my coaches and psychologist and he's actually not traveling before, the French Open. It was mostly because of finances and everything. Right now we have COVID so there´s many restrictions, but he's gonna start traveling I think after COVID, I hope so because, you know, it's kind of weird right now coming back home from two months on tour and being in kind of a different world. So I would really appreciate him to, to be here and also to see how we work and everything. So right now it's changed a lot, but, when I was younger, he was the main reason we played tennis. 

Dan Kiernan: Yeah absolutely, and as you've gone through that journey, I think it could be quite easy for someone to look at you and go, well, she started playing tennis age four. She was pretty good already age 14, she won junior Wimbledon, age 16. She then won the French Open age 19, you know, how can this be so easy when so many other people are having these challenges? But I'm sure you've had some challenges as well already along that journey. What are some of those challenges that maybe other people haven't seen?

Iga Swiatek: You know, it depends. I don't know actually what people know about me so it's hard for me to choose the right challenges. But I think, you know, when I had surgery, when I was 16, it was pretty hard because I was on that level when I didn´t really know if I'm going to come back and I've never had a break that was so long because I actually didn't play a tournament for seven months. So, you know, I had my doubts and I didn't know that if I'm going to come back and, you know, play properly. And also like being a 16-year-old girl and knowing that body has some issues right now, It's going to be harder probably when I'm going to be older, you know, it's, it's hard. So, that was a tough moment, but, you know, I just strive to do everything step-by-step and I worked day-by-day to get better. And actually it wasn't that hard because I, I did a really good comeback. I remember that my first tournament after injury was, wait, what was that?

Dan Kiernan: You won an ITF tournament I'm sure you did, a pro circuit event maybe?

Iga Swiatek: Yes. But I did a pretty good comeback and I think I won some great matches. So I realized then that nothing can stop me, you know, and that was something that turned out to be a pretty good experience to have. So that was pretty hard, but you know, you always have some doubts. I mean, there were many moments when I was thinking is tennis really for me because, you know, I always knew that I'm playing good, but you have to have other skills to be a pro. 

Dan Kiernan: And at what age did you want to be a pro? At what age did you say right in my mind, this is the life for me, this is where I'm going?

Iga Swiatek: I think on my first junior Grand Slam, so the French Open 2016, I realised that this is a great way to live a life. And, yeah, when I saw the pro players around me, you know, practicing and they seem like they're really having fun and being in a Grand Slam, it was really overwhelming for me. So I think that moment was really important. 

Dan Kiernan: And as you mentioned Grand Slams, we have to move into Roland Garros and you are the 115th guests. We've had many doubles Grand Slam champions, Wev had many junior Grand Slam champions, we've had many coaches that have coached Grand Slam champions, many fitness coaches that have coached Grand Slam champions. But we have never had a singles Grand Slam champion. So you're the first to come on the podcast. And there's not many of them out there, you know you really do, when you win a Grand Slam, you move into, into a place in history that not many people experience, but so many of us dream, you know, so many of us work and dream. So tell us, how did that feel when you won the French open in 2020?

Iga Swiatek: Like really unreal I would say and there were so many emotions. I actually, the main thing I was thinking about was, what's going to happen next because, you know, the, the huge experience was really like hectic in my mind. Being on court and playing a match was, was kind of normal, even though it was a Grand Slam final. I knew what I had to do and, what I should focus on. But after, it was, it was weird, and I realized that people are going to treat me differently right now, and my life is going to change. So, I needed sometime to, you know, adjust to that and get used to that. I think that still, I'm not completely used to that because right now I'm not on tour and I'm not playing as an underdog, but as a Grand Slam champion, so it's still totally different. 

Iga Swiatek: I think many players struggle at the beginning of that process. For sure it´s going to be better and better with time, but right now the main goal for me is to just focus on work because there's so much stuff going on around me that it's sometimes hard to actually, you know, just do what you've done from the beginning of your life. So just say thanks you know. I remember I was really happy and really proud of myself because, when I was younger it was my dream, but never my goal because I didn't actually think that it was possible for me to win a Grand Slam. So when it happened, I was really like relieved and also proud that I could do this. I surprised myself. Actually we were talking in our team, that you know, everybody was surprised except Daria because Daria says that she always knew I was going to do something big. So it's pretty weird. 

Dan Kiernan: And it's amazing. And I want to get onto your team in a moment, but I have a couple more things on that French Open. And I just think, if it's the French Open or it's the Under 14 event in Marbella, or it's the Polish National Championships, it's all, it's all relative. And I think quite often the first time somebody finds themselves in the position of maybe winning an event that they've not won before, they can sometimes wake up. We hear of stories of people making the semi-finals and just playing great and going with it. And then all of a sudden they wake up and realise what they might achieve and then maybe the nerves hit them really badly. Whereas I looked at the scores, I remember watching, but I looked at the scores before you came to the Academy last week and you just killed everybody the whole way, like the whole way through the tournament. And it's so impressive that you were able to do that. Was there a moment where you thought I could win this, or did you just stay in that process and keep doing that, doing your thing?

Iga Swiatek: Well I would lie if I would say there weren´t the moments like that, because after winning against Simona, I knew that I'm playing a great game. But I didn't know if it's possible for me to keep that to the end of the tournament. And also, after the quarterfinal, I had some tough moments because there were so many emotions in me that I actually had to, you know, cry after the match that I won. But it was a good thing because I got rid of the emotions and I kind of worked through them and, yeah, I mean, I had moments like that, but then I kept remembering what was really important in my work. So just, you know, focusing on the details and keeping my routines and I did that for the rest of the tournament. But, it's still something that it will be hard for me to repeat, and I think I would become a more consistent player if I would find a pattern, how to do that. 

Iga Swiatek: You know, maybe not as Rafa is doing because he just won so many French Open´s! But, I would love to repeat that some day and actually be more aware of what's going on. But that's not only my work, my team is really helping with that. I think someday, I hope I'm going to have two weeks like that again, but it's more and more often when I feel that I have really a big control on court of my emotions and physicality and tactics and another tournament when I felt like that was Adelaide. So yeah, I think it's possible, but still, it's a new situation, so I have many things to work on.

Dan Kiernan: But you talk so maturely, I know you're almost 20, but you talk so much and you've mentioned so much there about your emotions, about how you feel, about how you're able to talk through them. And you have then mentioned your team and I've had the pleasure to meet your team who are all so lovely. Like it's unbelievable how, including yourself, how nice you've all been with everybody around the Academy and everybody's speaking so highly of you all, rightly so. You have to be one of the first tennis players to be traveling with a sports psychologist in Daria, who you seem very, very close to. Why was that decision made and what has been the impact of that decision to have somebody like Daria by your side?

Iga Swiatek: You know, I wanted to work with asports psychologist since I was, I don't know, 14 or something like that. I always felt that, you know, at the beginning it was pretty easy for me because I felt like I'm getting annoyed on court and that's the thing to work on. But, you know, when I grew older, I realised that there are much more things I have to work on with my mentality and everything, and not only on court, but also in my private life. So I was looking for people to help me. I had some, you know, mental training before, but then I started working with Daria and I actually didn't know that it's possible for sports psychologists to travel around and be part of the team on the same level as my tennis coach or a physical coach or physiotherapists. 

Iga Swiatek: So that was her idea, and I think it worked out pretty well because for me, going on a session twice a month, I didn't think it would do a lot because I'm not that kind of person who's gonna be open when they meet someone after 10 minutes. So that was a good decision that Daria has made, and that's why she's a good psychologist. And, yeah, we started working and then she became part of the team. At the beginning it was like ¨Hey, do you want to go to Washington and Toronto with me, we're going to see how that's going to work.¨ But she's been really involved, and she's like the biggest support for me on tour. So, she's pretty important in our team, yeah. 

Dan Kiernan: And I have to move then to your coach Piotr Sierzputowksi, who I think that's a great story and we have to get him on the Podcast as well to hear his coaching story. You know he hasn't been someone that's been on the tour for many, many years, and your his first player that he's taken from the age of 14 and then through to being a French Open champion. But I think it's also great to see that a player has also stayed dedicated and loyal to a coach that they've had, when so often in tennis we see players jumping into these super coaches and all of those sorts of things. So again, why has that relationship worked so well and tell the listeners a little bit about how that relationship started?

Iga Swiatek: Actually it started by accident because I just didn't have a coach and we were looking for someone to replace my previous coach who I had been working with for like, I don't know, four or five years. And, you know Piotr was just around and he was the person that his task was to just play few practices with me and just coach me for a month until we found someone else.

Dan Kiernan: Did he used to beat you?

Iga Swiatek: I don't remember actually, but I don't think so. I think he´s going to tell you a different story! 

Dan Kiernan: When did you start to beat him? 15,16?

Iga Swiatek: You know, I think he started coaching when he was like 18, so he wasn't really playing a lot. So I don´t want to brag about that, but I think I was winning with him pretty early! It was also the kind of thing that's really good because he was mainly focusing on strategy and tactics. He's really good at analysing tennis and you know, observing players. So, he has a good knowledge and he was developing with me basically when we were on tour and when we were playing. So it wasn't like a problem for me that he didn't have experience before with being on tour, because I feel like he's developing in his own way. And, yeah, we were kind of like learning together, but actually I could say that about everybody because no-o ne in Poland have been in that situation, because no one actually won a Grand Slam. I always felt that it's more important to have a good mood in our team and build relationships with everybody than having the best coach. But you never know who's going to be the best for you, right. There's no ranking for coaches, it´s just, you know, relationship and how they approach stuff. 

Dan Kiernan: You speak so well. That's such a great answer for people to take. I am going to go into my last little thing because I know you need to get ready for practice. The rain has stopped and the sun is coming out, unfortunately for you, because they're going to put you through your paces again. But yeah, moving into the clear court season as somebody who now has a target on their head as the defending champion in Paris. How do you feel going into the clay court season and what are your hopes for the next few weeks?

Iga Swiatek: Yeah I don't have like any goals and any hopes because I know how my last season looked like and I lost in Rome, on my first match on clay. So I'm giving myself more time, but it's also hard for me because I'm really ambitious and I put a lot on myself. So, that's why Daria is here and we're working together to lower the expectations a little bit from, from my side and, yeah, I'm just trying to focus on playing tennis. I was always really excited when the clay season started. This year is pretty different because I feel like people are gonna watch me, watch everything I do, but yeah, I'm trying to remember how it was to just, just play. That's why I'm here basically, because it's easier outside of Poland, and we can focus on working and we're going to see how it's gonna go. I'm gonna play for the first time in Madrid so it's always pretty hard. And, yeah, I'm just gonna take everything step-by-step. It's not easy to be a defending champion for sure. I've never been in a situation like that. So, I can't really predict how I'm gonna react. I can be really stressed about that, but I hope I'm going to approach it differently and I'm going to be more motivated and I'm going to have that positive kick with me. 

Dan Kiernan: Very good answer again. And, and in terms of, if we fast forward 10 or 15 years, what will you see as success for your tennis career?

Iga Swiatek: Being consistent and actually finding that pattern that I was talking before on how to actually win a tournament and have control over my mentality and over, you know, just me being on court. And being really aware of everything that's going on around and how to implement some stuff from practices through to my match game. I think it's going to come with experience, but I don't want to have any goals like hey I want to win six Grand Slams or something like that. I always wanted to win each of the Grand Slams, but it was more like a dream than a goal right now. I see that, after winning a Gran Slam I'm still the same person. I still have the same values. So, you know, my goal would be to be consistent and just be, I dunno, a really smart tennis player and have experience. Yeah. 

Dan Kiernan: Are you ready for the famous Control the Controllables quick fire round?

Iga Swiatek: Oh my God. I don't know. We're going to see!

Dan Kiernan: There´s nothing scary in that Iga don't worry! Kick serve, or slice serve?

Iga Swiatek: Kick serve. That's easy.

Dan Kiernan: Clay courts or hard courts?

Iga Swiatek: Oh my god, clay court. 

Dan Kiernan: Favorite Grand Slam?

Iga Swiatek: Really? That´s like an obvious answer, French Open. 

Dan Kiernan: Okay. Do you prefer to be in the gym or on the track?

Iga Swiatek: In the gym.

Dan Kiernan: Do you prefer sun or snow?

Iga Swiatek: Sun I mean,who doesn´t?

Dan Kiernan: Well I think that as well, but some people prefer snow amazingly. Who's your biggest rival?

Iga Swiatek: I don't have one rival, I mean, I don't know. Nobody. Me probably sometimes! 

Dan Kiernan: That´s a good answer! Forehand or backhand? 

Iga Swiatek: It depends on the day.

Dan Kiernan: At the net or at the back?

Iga Swiatek: At the back, but lately, sometimes a the net, so watch out!

Dan Kiernan: Who's your favorite football team?

Iga Swiatek: I don't have any, I'm sorry. 

Dan Kiernan: Move on! Injury timeout or not? Should players be allowed it on the court, in a match?

Iga Swiatek: Yeah, I mean, I think we should have it, but sometimes players use it as a part of the strategy. And that's not the real issue. 

Dan Kiernan: 60% of guests have said they shouldn't have it, which is why I ask the question, but it's normally the journalists or maybe the coaches. Every player says, yes, you should have it, but it needs to be used and monitored to make sure that it's used in the right way. But that's a difficult thing to manage.

Iga Swiatek: That's true, yeah. 

Dan Kiernan: Should there be three sets or five sets at Grand Slams for women.

Iga Swiatek: Three

Dan Kiernan: If there was one rule change that you could have in tennis, what would it be?

Iga Swiatek: I wouldn't change any rules because I always, you know, thought of tennis as a game where the rules aren´t actually changing because of the history and the traditions. So yeah, I wouldn't change anything.

Dan Kiernan: On-court coaching or not. 

Iga Swiatek: You know, I'm still not used to this coaching from outside of the court because right now coaches can't come on, on the break. I actually preferred the break coaching, you know, when they actually come and talk to us normally, but I'm okay with on-court coaching, just the way of coaching is tricky.

Dan Kiernan: And who should our next guest be on the podcast?

Iga Swiatek: I mean, you were talking about Piotr, so probably him, right?

Dan Kiernan: And also Daria. I think we've had a few people say you need to get Daria on the podcast as well. So maybe we'll speak to them both at some point. 

Iga Swiatek: That's a good idea. I don't know what's their plan and schedule, but they´re really busy people right now after the French Open as well. So, yeah, you have to ask them.

Dan Kiernan: Yeah I´ll speak to them. IGA, thank you so much for coming on. I just want to say one quick thing. On the first day that you at the Academy last Sunday, I watched the end of your practice. And at the end of the practice, you walked over, you picked up the sweeper, you swept the clay court without anyone asking, and everybody that you've seen all week, including myself, you've always had a smile, you've always said hello. I think those values come through very strongly and I think that is why you have so many supporters as well as your amazing tennis. And now you have even more supporters because everyone at the Academy is fully behind you for the rest of the clay court season, and the rest of your career. Thank you for coming on the podcast and the very best of luck the next few weeks.

Iga Swiatek: Thank you very much. Thank you for the nice words, I really appreciate it and thank you for the invitation. I hope you like the podcast.

Dan Kiernan: It´s great to have you on, thank you.

Dan Kiernan: So there you have it, our first singles Grand Slam champion, and as ever I've got Vicki beside me. She's lovely isn't she?

Victoria Kiernan: Oh she's so lovely. I mean, how cool was that? Grand slam champion and she just seems very down to earth doesn´t she. And very young at 19, but I've said before, about Dasha Kasatkina as well, quite a wise head on her shoulders for a teenager. 

Dan Kiernan: Yeah, incredibly so. And actually I think at this point, I have to say, we also got to know her quite well this week. And she was amazingly humble, you know, around the tennis Academy, with all the youngsters, there was always a smile. And I always think everyone tends to say hello if you say hello to them, or they tend to grunt and give something. However, every time Iga walked in, she was the one making eye contact, she was the one looking for the hello, she was looking to give the smile. Just as at the end of every session at the end of every day. And then also at the end of the week, you know, she bought us a little gift. She did things that she didn't have to do. And I think it says a lot about her as a person. 

Victoria Kiernan: Well, not just Iga, the whole team as well. They were all lovely. And it was great for our players at the Academy, I think to be around them, to see Iga working with her team and see how lovely they were. I mean, some of the older players got to hit with Iga it was a brilliant experience for them. And at the end of the week, she came into our circle. We always have a Friday circle at the end of the week for our Academy players where we all come together, from the eldest players to the youngest, all the staff, and we reflect on the week, and she joined that, the whole team did. And she said a few words at the end, which was lovely, about how they had actually inspired her. She said that, tennis can often be quite complicated, quite serious, and being around all the players and seeing them having fun and just enjoying themselves, just reminded her that, you know, tennis is fun and it was inspiring for her to see that. So that was really nice for them to hear too.

Dan Kiernan: And for any Iga fans out there can I just say we do our circle. However, it was very much at social distance 

Victoria Kiernan: That is true, and talking about her team. It was fascinating as well, I know you talked about it in the episode too, but she travels with a sports psychologist as well. Daria. 

Dan Kiernan: Yeah really interesting, and I have to give Daria a big shout out as well as a coach, and I know both of them have said they'd love to come on the podcast. So watch out for that over the next few weeks. But yeah, Daria almost is like a mother figure to Iga, you can see it. She's there as a sports psychologist, but she is the female figure that I guess a 19-year-old needs when they're traveling with three men, traveling with a hitting partner, physio, fitness coach, tennis coach, and it's great to see that she's got that female figure. But Daria is working with her all the time on the mind and for Iga to take a sport psychologist on, she mentioned in the podcast that at 13, 14 she was really showcasing interest in that. And then she's full-time had Daria traveling with her for the last two years. 

Dan Kiernan: And I think Daria certainly deserves a lot of credit for that, for what she's done with Iga´s mind to get her in the right head space. And, you know, I tried to push her a little bit on that. I mean, if we take the French open, anyone that followed the French open, those scorelines to win her first ever Grand Slam at 19. And I asked her did you wake up at any point you know, and she must have some serious mental skills for that. Not that it wouldn't have touched her, but for her to be able to cope with that and just plow on through taking the whole field down and lifting that trophy at 19. It was amazing. 

Victoria Kiernan: Well she said didn't she, how she realised afterwards that life for her would be different now, and that she would be going into other tournaments not as the underdog, but as a Grand Slam champion. And she recognises that, you know, that there is a shift with that.

Dan Kiernan: No, there was, there was a big self-reflection and big self-awareness piece which any good sports psychologist will work on. And I think sometimes we're guilty of thinking sports psychologists are there for loonies. And it's like, no, that's not what they're there for. You know, we all need to be self-aware, we all need to self reflect. And she certainly seemed to be able to work through the emotions that she's feeling. I just can't help thinking, and I wanted to ask her, but the nature of the conversation didn't go there, is would it have been different if there was a fully packed center court at the French Open for that final? Would that have added a little bit extra, and I think these are some of the things that COVID-19 and this pandemic has brought upon us. 

Victoria Kiernan: Oh who cares She's got the trophy! If I'm holding that trophy in my hand, Grand Slam champion, I don't think I would mind if there was one person watching or 10,000. I mean, I guess we'll never know really if it would have had an impact, but yeah, no one can ever take that away from her now. 

Dan Kiernan: No, they can't. And, and they wont, and I strongly believe she'll go on and will win multiple Grand Slams. And I really hope she will because now she certainly has the whole of SotoTennis Academy behind her. I hope the Control the Controllables community can also get behind her because we love fantastic tennis players and she's certainly an amazing tennis player. But the one thing I want to want to leave this show talking about, is one comment that Iga said after winning a Grand Slam: ¨I'm still the same person with the same values¨. These results, they don't define us. Who we are as a person defines us. And that is what continues to come through loud and clear throughout these podcasts, speaking to these amazing people and we´ll continue to bring lots of great people to you. But until next time I'm Dan Kiernan and we are Control the Controllables.