“I have a hard time catching eye contact with Serena,” Swiatek said at her pre-tournament press conference ahead of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. “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’m pretty shy.”
Last week, Williams announced plans to retire after the US Open in late August. The 40-year-old has put together a GOAT-worthy career with 23 Grand Slam singles titles — the most by any player in the Open Era and one being Margaret Court’s all-time record — among her lengthy list of achievements.
Swiatek, 21-year-old Polish phenom, has already earned some notoriety in her own right: She claimed six titles this season during a 37-match win streak and already has claimed two French Opens — though, she’s still dealing with some star shock.
“When I look at her, I suddenly kind of forget that I’m here as the World No. 1. I see Serena and it’s, ‘Wow, Serena!’ You know? And I feel like I’m a kid from kindergarten just looking at her. So it’s tough. I haven’t talked to her, but I’m just trying to say hi,” Swiatek said.
Williams and Swiatek are long shots to face one another in Cincy, with Williams kicking off her attempt against 2021 US Open winner Emma Raducanu on Tuesday. Swiatek has a first-round bye but will face either wild-card Sloane Stephens or Alize Cornet, who ended Swiatek’s win streak at Wimbledon.
There is hope they could meet on the court at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens — if the US Open gods are willing to help the women’s draw.
“It would be the last chance to play her,” Swiatek said. “I’d love to, if only to see how it is to face her on the other side of the net.”