Pandemic helped Swiatek deal with French Open success

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - October 10, 2020. Poland's Iga Swiatek kisses the trophy as she celebrates after winning the French Open. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

(Reuters) - French Open champion Iga Swiatek says the COVID-19 pandemic has been beneficial for her as the restrictions allowed the 19-year-old from Poland to settle into her life as a first-time Grand Slam winner.

Swiatek went from being a largely unknown teenager to acquiring celebrity status when she became the youngest woman to win the French Open since Monica Seles in 1992 and the first to do so without dropping a set since Justine Henin in 2007.

"I didn't see like a lot of people around, because at that time we had many restrictions and it was impossible to get like big gatherings," Swiatek told reporters on Thursday after reaching the semi-final at the Adelaide International.

"But I can see like a lot of support, like by media and TV and I feel like people really saw me for the first time and I gained popularity.

"So it was actually good that the pandemic is here, because it was really good for me and I could try to learn how to deal with it step by step. It's going to be probably different when the pandemic is over, but I have this experience now."

Swiatek, who is ranked 18th, had earlier said she was finding it tough to deal with the weight of expectation at the Australian Open following her Roland Garros triumph.

The 14-day mandatory quarantine upon arrival in Melbourne ahead of the year's first Grand Slam also helped her.

"Actually, I feel like the quarantine in Australia was the first time I could like probably chill out and not worry about everything that's been going on after French Open," said Swiatek after her opponent Danielle Collins retired with a lower back injury while trailing 6-2 3-0.

"So I think I needed that time and I'm really happy that I won such a tournament actually at the end of the season."

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Toby Davis)

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