“People were even saying I’m not Polish” – Iga Swiatek opens up about foregoing Ukraine ribbon after flurry of negative responses

World No. 1 Iga Swiatek recently shared her thoughts about the challenges she faced this season and the controversy surrounding the Ukrainian ribbon she had been wearing.In an interview with Super Express journalist Michal Chojecki, Iga Swiatek, who has been training in Warsaw ahead of the new season, spoke candidly about the backlash she faced for wearing a ribbon in Ukrainian colors.

“Recently there has been a lot of hate and a lot of comments that simply judged me. People were even saying that I am not Polish. I think it started to generate more negative emotions than positive reactions and we decided that the ribbon wasn’t the best idea anymore,” Swiatek explained.

Swiatek emphasized that despite not wearing the ribbon, her support for Ukraine remains strong. She hopes her actions, including a charity match in Krakow, have encouraged support for Ukraine.Iga Swiatek reflected on the unity and support shown by Poles, stating:

“However, we still intend to support Ukraine and I think this is the most important thing. And with what has already happened, wearing the ribbon and the charity match in Krakow, I hope that I have encouraged Poles to help. Besides, there was no need for encouragement, because as a nation we were really united and did a lot.”

Discussing her return to the top of the WTA rankings, Swiatek noted the mental shift that helped her triumph at the WTA Finals in Cancun.

“I think if I hadn’t let go of the expectations in a way and if I hadn’t coped so well with the pressure at the end of the season, none of this would have happened. After the US Open, there was a time when I had to change my attitude so I could continue to develop well as a player, focus well on training and also be more free and relaxed during matches.”

When asked about her more challenging 2023 season compared to 2022, Iga Swiatek highlighted the obstacles she overcame, including injuries and an intense rivalry with Aryna Sabalenka.
“This year was different because I had two injuries that were serious and could have kept me out for a longer time if we had handled them poorly and managed everything worse. There were a lot of ups and downs when it comes to my form, and the rivalry with Aryna Sabalenka became very intense,” she remarked.

Regarding her immediate future plans, Swiatek elaborated:
“I’m leaving at the beginning of next week, so these are the last days in Warsaw. The training sessions are definitely hard, and today I had one of the hardest ones. And in Abu Dhabi training will be even more intense, but there will be more time to rest as well and fewer responsibilities off the court. I think this preparation period is perfectly arranged so that I could feel good in those conditions in Australia after two weeks of playing in temperatures over 25 degrees.”

“Each defeat was a bit overwhelming for me” – Iga Swiatek reflects on the decision to focus solely on singles

In the same interview with Super Express, Iga Swiatek opened up to Michal Chojecki about her decision to focus entirely on singles matches, a choice she made after she realized how emotionally taxing playing doubles could be.

Swiatek added:
“I stopped playing doubles in 2022 so that I could focus 100 percent on singles because, after all, I’m just not the kind of player who could treat doubles matches as training. I always cared a lot and each defeat was a bit overwhelming for me, which sometimes – when I was still in a singles tournament – affected me.”

Swiatek discussed her preparations for the upcoming season as well, highlighting her participation in the World Tennis League in Abu Dhabi and the United Cup. Swiatek also expressed her enthusiasm at teaming up with Hubert Hurkacz again.

“Yes, absolutely. These exhibition matches and the United Cup will definitely give us a lot. However, I already played with Hubert a year ago, so it’s not like we have to change much, because we both play great tennis and I think we get along very well on the court and outside sports. I think it’s a cool adventure and a good opportunity to compete at the Olympics together,” Swiatek stated.

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