French Open: Swiatek appeals to the crowd for quietness during match

French Open: Swiatek appeals to the crowd for quietness during match

World number one Iga Swiatek took on the ultimate challenge Wednesday evening – and no, it wasn’t defeating four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka. It was lecturing a stadium full of French fans on their behaviour.

The world No 1, who saved match points to defeat Osaka in the second round, took exception to fans calling out during rallies. At several stages across the match, there were loud sounds from the crowd while Swiatek was in the process of striking the ball.

In her post-match interview, Swiatek boldly raised the issue.

 “But sometimes, you know, when you’re under a lot of pressure and you scream something during the rally or right before the return, it’s hard to be focused.”

It was a brave move, considering how lively crowds can be at Roland-Garros. But the Pole did an excellent job of communicating and received a warm round of applause partway through her address.

“I usually don’t bring this up because I want to be this kind of player that is really in the zone and focused,” Swiatek continued after the applause. “But this is serious for us, we’re fighting our whole lives to be better and better and sometimes it’s hard to accept that. The stakes are big, and there’s a lot of money here to win. Losing a few points may change a lot.

“Please guys, if you can support us between the rallies but not during, that would be amazing.”

Speaking to the media after the match, Swiatek expanded on her on-court comments.

“I got the most frustrated when I missed that drop volley. Somebody shouted when the ball was flying to me,” she explained.

“I knew that I should be more focused and not let this distract me, but sometimes it’s hard because in tennis we’re used to the stadium being silent during the point.

“It happened more times, especially before the returns, and that’s why I wanted to speak out about it because if it would happen one time, I would just let it go.

“I know the French crowd is enthusiastic. Yeah, but for now in tennis we have these kind of rules that there should be, like, more silence in the audience, and I just wanted to point out that it’s not easy for us.”

The 22-year-old acknowledged that speaking up about the topic was a risk, and hopes that fans will understand her perspective.

“I know that French crowds can be kind of harsh, so I don’t want to be under the radar right now. So, yeah, I don’t know if that was a good decision or not, but I hope they can treat me as a human and just we can kind of work on it.”