Winning a title at the Qatar Open on Saturday represented something larger than a tremendous tennis victory for Iga Swiatek. It was a chance to foster unity.
The Polish tennis star defeated Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit 6-2, 6-0 in a little over an hour to claim the second WTA 1000 title of her career on Saturday.
“I hope that even though this is a pretty small event looking at all the problems we have in the world, the sport is going to connect– even though there are many things dividing us– it’s going to connect us and bring us joy,” Swiatek said in an emotional on-court interview after the match.
After the win, Swiatek posted a picture on Instagram of herself holding the Doha trophy. In the caption, she said, "I always wanted sport to connect people, to give them joy, good, and make an impact, but in the current situation it's just not right to talk about my sports success, my today's win…,” Swiatek said. “
"I don't have words to describe what is happening in Ukraine. I can't imagine the Ukrainian's suffering, the whole families' pain… People who stayed there and those who had no choice and left so suddenly.
“Everything I want to say seems just not enough… I would like to express my solidarity with our friends from Ukraine. And if sport can connect us even if a bit today and give us a tiny bit of joy in these tough moments, I'm grateful for that.”
A hard-court title win for Swiatek is particularly encouraging as the 20-year-old is known for her dominance on the clay. In 2020, she won the French Open and was a doubles finalist at the event in 2021.
With the win, Swiatek will become the new world No. 5 when the updated WTA rankings come out Monday.