Iga Swiatek hoping to catch Serena Williams’ eye and say ‘hi’, but admits she is ‘too shy’ to introduce herself

Iga Swiatek chats to the press

Iga Swiatek is the reigning world No 1 and a superstar in her own right, but she is yet to muster the courage to introduce herself to tennis great Serena Williams.

The curtain is set to fall 23-time Grand Slam winner Williams’ career in the next few weeks as the American announced last week that she is “evolving away from tennis” following nearly three decades at the top.

This week’s Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati and the US Open at Flushing Meadows are likely to be Williams’ last-ever professional tournaments so time is running out for Swiatek to say “hi”.

Swiatek was asked about if she had any encounters with the 40-year-old on the WTA Tour over the past few years, but says she has been too star struck.

“The thing is that I have a hard time catching eye contact with Serena,” the Pole revealed. “And I just wanted to say ‘hi’ a few times. But it’s tough because she always has so many people around her and I am pretty shy.”

She added: “And when I look at her, I kind of suddenly forget that I am here as the world No 1. I see Serena and it’s, ‘Wow, Serena,’ you know? I feel like I am a kid from kindergarten just looking at her.”

Swiatek and Williams are also yet to play in a competitive match and that appears to be unlikely to happen at the WTA 1000 event in Cincinnati as they are on the opposite sides of the draw.

“It would be the last chance to play her. I’d love to, if only to see how it is to face her on the other side of the net,” the world No 1 said.

The reigning French Open champion is coming off a disappointing week at the Canadian Open as she lost in the third round against Beatriz Haddad Maia while she also exited her home event, the Poland Open, in the quarter-final.

Swiatek will open her Western & Southern Open campaign against former US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the second round on Wednesday, but she is not too concerned about the immediate results as she is more focused on the future.

“I’m trying to look long term at whole process and maybe think [where I want to be] in the next season,” she said. “It’s more my team who is kind of like convincing me that I should think long term.”

The good news for Swiatek is that she doesn’t have too many points to defend over the next few weeks as she lost in the second round of the Western & Southern Open last year while she exited the US Open in the fourth round.

Having won already six titles this year – including one Grand Slam and four WTA 1000 events – the Pole has already qualified for the season-ending WTA Finals, but she will be hoping to improve on her 2021 performance as she exited the prestigious tournament in the group stage after losing two of her three rubbers.