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Swiatek seeking to emulate Roland Garros greats

  • Matt Trollope

This article was originally published on 20 May 2024.

Since then, Swiatek has won six matches to return to the Roland Garros final, improving her record at the tournament to 34-2. This is a winning rate of more than 94 per cent.

She is on a 20-match winning streak at Roland Garros, with her last loss coming in the 2021 quarterfinals to Maria Sakkari.

She faces Jasmine Paolini in Saturday's final.


Iga Swiatek is no stranger to heady numbers.

In her comparatively short time on the professional tour, the 22-year-old has already achieved extraordinary milestones and emulated the achievements of some of the sport’s legends.

This is especially so on clay.

Swiatek is the clear favourite for a third consecutive Roland Garros title after a brilliant clay-court season, during which she completed the rare feat of winning Madrid and Rome back-to-back. She carries a 12-match winning streak into Paris.

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History suggests that form and results of this kind correlate with Roland Garros success. And should she go on to triumph again in the French capital, she would step up into what Australian tennis legend Todd Woodbridge describes as “rarified air”.

Ruthless at Roland Garros

"Her game is just so well suited (clay). But more than anything for me, it's her ability to slide and move on the surface that is far better than any other female player, and if not, possibly up there with the best, alongside a Steffi Graf,” Woodbridge observed.

“She has the best defence on a clay court of any female player currently, and then as soon as she can get back into neutral, with her forehand she has the best offence.

“How do you beat that?”

At age 22, Iga Swiatek has already won three Roland Garros titles in (from L-R) 2020, 2022 and 2023. [Getty Images]

At Roland Garros, it’s proven almost impossible so far.

Swiatek has contested Roland Garros five times and played 30 matches, winning 28 of them. She has only ever lost seven completed sets at the tournament.

Only two players in Open era history – Chris Evert and Monica Seles – won more matches in their first 30 at Roland Garros, with 29 each. And only Margaret Court owns a better winning percentage at the event in the Open era.

ROLAND GARROS: Best winning % in Open era (women)


Win %


Margaret Court



Iga Swiatek



Chris Evert



Steffi Graf



Justine Henin



Monica Seles



Arantxa Sanchez Vicario



Evonne Goolagong Cawley



Ann Jones



Serena Williams




However, Court and Evert never won three consecutive Roland Garros titles, something Swiatek is targeting when the 2024 event begins later this month.

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Seles did, as did Justine Henin – the only two women in the Open Era to achieve this feat. And if you go way back to 1925, when Roland Garros first accepted entries from non-French players, just two more women – Helen Wills Moody and Hilde Krahwinkel Sperling – were able to achieve a Parisian three-peat.

Should Swiatek match them, she will have won four of the past five French titles. Among women since 1925, only Henin and Wills Moody ever managed the same.

Recalling the greats

Woodbridge said Swiatek’s performance at Roland Garros shared similarities with some of the tournament’s greatest champions and was “pulling a little bit of all of them together”.

There was the unwavering concentration of Evert. The sheer intensity and focus of Seles. The physicality and movement of Graf, a six-time French champion. The determination of Henin, who like Swiatek was surrounded by a driven team and was also willing to make technical tweaks to her strokes in the quest to improve.

Plus, numbers at the tournament that are, so far, trending in the same direction as her idol, Rafael Nadal.

After becoming a three-time champion at Roland Garros, Iga Swiatek (L) received her 2023 trophy from seven-time Roland Garros winner Chris Evert (R). [Getty Images]

"They're champion characteristics, and she has them,” Woodbridge said.

"Sometimes a player comes along and there is a court and a surface that they own, like Rafa at Roland Garros. Iga is becoming the women's version of Rafa on a clay court.”

In her five visits to Paris, Swiatek has never fallen before the second week of the tournament, and has already won the title three times.




Main draws

Win %

Sloane Stephens




Simona Halep




Petra Kvitova




Iga Swiatek




Victoria Azarenka




Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova





Among women, only Evert and Seles have done better, with Seles winning three titles in her first four Roland Garros campaigns, and Evert winning four of her first five.

"If we go back in time and look at Monica, her concentration levels were incredible. Her ability to switch on from the first point, get momentum and not lose it, was as good as any player who has played the game,” Woodbridge said.

“That is a little of what Iga is bringing to this modern game. I think she has that switched-on look from the first point when she's confidence, and when she gets ahead, she very rarely lets a lead get away from her.”

Lethal lead-up form

Since 1990, when the WTA Tier I tournament category – now known as WTA 1000 – was introduced, there have always been two big European red clay events leading into Roland Garros. From 1990 to 2008, they were Berlin and Rome; since 2009, they have been Madrid and Rome.

The select few women who have won both back-to-back have all gone deep at the subsequent French Open.

BACK-TO-BACK: Winning Berlin/Madrid & Rome 



Roland Garros result


Monica Seles



Amelie Mauresmo



Dinara Safina



Serena Williams



Iga Swiatek



In that same span, just three women have entered Roland Garros undefeated on clay that season.

Seles in 1990 won Tampa, Rome and Berlin to arrive in Paris on a 15-match winning streak. In 2013, Serena Williams began Roland Garros on a 16-match win streak after sweeping titles in Charleston, Madrid and Rome. In between, Henin built a 17-match unbeaten streak with titles in Charleston, Warsaw and Berlin in 2005.

All three went on to become French Open champions that same year.

Swiatek may not have gone undefeated during this clay-court season – she fell to Elena Rybakina in the Stuttgart semifinals – but since 1990 only Seles, Henin and Williams have bettered the 12-match winning streak Swiatek takes into Paris.

Swiatek did go undefeated on clay in 2022, building a 9-0 record by winning Stuttgart and Rome. Sure enough, she followed the pattern by going on to win Roland Garros.

It remains to be seen how Swiatek will fare at the tournament in 2024.

But the manner in which she is tracking suggests she could emulate some icons of the sport in three weeks’ time.