PARIS - Minutes after becoming a Grand Slam champion at age 19, 54th-ranked Iga Swiatek held a microphone during the French Open trophy presentation and was hesitant for pretty much the only time over the past two weeks.
"First of all, I'm not very good at speeches," Swiatek began, haltingly, "so, sorry, because I won my last tournament like two years ago, and I really don't know who to thank."
When she's got a racket in her hand, it's a whole different story. With the poise of a veteran and the shots of a champion, Swiatek wrapped up a dominating run at Roland Garros, grabbing the last six games to beat Sofia Kenin 6-4, 6-1 in Saturday's final.
"Two years ago, I won a junior Grand Slam, and right now I'm here. It feels like such a short time," Swiatek said, her voice cracking. "I'm just overwhelmed."
Swiatek is the first Polish tennis player to win a major singles trophy. "I know it's pretty crazy back home," she said.
One Polish newspaper's front page was splashed with the headline "Poland Garros" ahead of the final.
When she smacked one last heavy-topspin forehand winner to claim her first tour-level title of any sort, Swiatek placed her right hand over her mouth and crouched, shaking her head.
Hard to believe? Maybe. This was, after all, only her seventh major tournament; she'd never been past the fourth round.
"It's, like, a life-changing experience," Swiatek said. "Yeah, I just feel like I kind of made history." .
Kenin said Swiatek's "spinny forehand up the line" bounces high enough to make things difficult for opponents.
Swiatek lost 28 games across seven matches and is the first woman to triumph in Paris without ceding a set since Justine Henin in 2007. She's the first teen to win the women's title there since Iva Majoli in 1997.
"She's, like, really hot right now," said Kenin, who was hampered by an injury to her upper left leg, an issue that first cropped up during a practice session last weekend.
Swiatek beat both 2018 champion Simona Halep and 2019 runner-up Marketa Vondrousova 6-1, 6-2.
So it made sense that Swiatek would handle the fourth-seeded Kenin, even if the 21-year-old from Florida won the Australian Open in February and entered Saturday 16-1 in Grand Slam play this year.
But she had yet to face the composed Swiatek, who only recently completed high school.