Serena Williams' presence at Wimbledon has left world number one Iga Swiatek "pretty overwhelmed".

Williams is making her long-awaited return to action at the All England Club, as the 40-year-old takes another shot at matching Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam victories.

The American has played only two competitive matches – both alongside Ons Jabeur in the doubles at the Eastbourne International – since she sustained a hamstring tear at last year's Wimbledon, but is back on a wildcard.

Three years ago, Williams became the oldest player to reach Wimbledon's women's singles final when she lost to Simona Halep. Six years ago, she was the oldest champion when she beat Angelique Kerber, although it seems a long shot for her to be challenging for honours this time around.

That is in part due to the remarkable form of top seed Swiatek, who heads to SW19 on the back of a 35-match winning streak that she is aiming to extend.

The Pole was not born when Williams made her Wimbledon debut in 1998, but she was the junior champion at the All England Club in 2018 and has since won the French Open twice. She is aiming to become the first woman since Kerber in 2016 to win two singles slams in the same season.

Yet Swiatek remains in awe of Williams.

"I saw her yesterday, I was pretty overwhelmed," said Swiatek in a news conference on Saturday.

"I didn't know how to react. I wanted to meet her. I saw that she had so many people around her. I don't know her team. It was pretty weird.

"But just seeing her around is great because she's such a legend, there's nobody that has done so much in tennis.

"I'm pretty sure that she's going to be in good shape because she has so much experience coming back from breaks or just playing in grand slams. I think she can use it."

Swiatek has never progressed past the fourth round of the singles at Wimbledon and will be making her first appearance of the season on grass when she takes on Jana Fett on Tuesday.

"Honestly I still feel like I need to figure out grass," she said. "Last year for sure, it was that kind of tournament where I didn't know what to expect.

"Then match by match I realised maybe I can do more and more.

"I didn't have a lot of time to prepare. But I'm just trying to stay open-minded and kind of take positives from the situation and realise that I can play without any expectations."

Serena Williams will begin her Wimbledon challenge against French player Harmony Tan, who will be making her main-draw debut.

For 40-year-old American Williams, a seven-time Wimbledon singles champion, there will be relief at avoiding a seed in the first round.

That was a possibility given that Williams is in the draw on a wildcard, having not played singles since suffering an ankle injury in her Wimbledon opener 12 months ago.

Instead, the 23-time grand slam winner will face the world number 113, who lost in the first round of the recent French Open, perhaps as soft a landing as Williams could have had.

Wimbledon begins on Monday at the All England Club, with women's defending champion Ash Barty not involved after announcing a shock retirement in March.

Williams has returned to action this week at the Eastbourne International, winning through two rounds in doubles alongside Ons Jabeur, before the duo pulled out due to a knee worry for Jabeur.

Awaiting the winner of Williams versus Tan will be American Christina McHale or Spanish 32nd seed Sara Sorribes Tormo, while last year's runner-up Karolina Pliskova is a potential third-round obstacle.

Women's top seed Iga Swiatek starts against Croatian qualifier Jana Fett, while Britain's US Open champion Emma Raducanu was drawn to face the experienced Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck, a player who knocked out the then-defending champion Garbine Muguruza at Wimbledon four years ago.

Tunisian third seed Jabeur was paired with Swedish qualifier Mirjam Bjorklund, Pliskova faces fellow Czech Tereza Martincova, and American Coco Gauff, fresh from a first grand slam final in Paris, drew Romanian Elena-Gabriela Ruse.

Estonia's Anett Kontaveit, who may struggle to live up to her billing as the second seed having never previously gone past round three, plays American Bernarda Pera first up.

Among former champions, Angelique Kerber tackles Kristina Mladenovic in her opener, while Simona Halep was handed a tough assignment against Karolina Muchova.

Of all the players in the draw this year, Muchova is the woman with the highest winning percentage in Wimbledon main draw matches.

The Czech has an 80 per cent success record, winning eight matches and losing twice after reaching the quarter-finals in her both previous appearances, losing to Elina Svitolina in 2019 and Kerber last season.

Defending men's champion Novak Djokovic and women's world number one Iga Swiatek head the seedings for Wimbledon, which starts on Monday.

The championships issued its lists of seeds on Tuesday, with Russian and Belarusian players absent from the line-up after they were excluded from the tournament because of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

It means Russia's men's world number one Daniil Medvedev is absent, while Germany's second-ranked Alexander Zverev also misses out, in his case because of an ankle injury.

With Wimbledon sticking to the ATP and WTA rankings, that means world number three Djokovic automatically moves up to the top seeding as he chases a seventh title at the All England Club, and a 21st grand slam win of his career.

Two-time Wimbledon winner Rafael Nadal is the second seed, with the Spaniard having already won the Australian Open and French Open titles this year to nudge two majors ahead of Djokovic and Roger Federer on the all-time men's list. Federer, still battling his way back from knee surgery, will not play Wimbledon this year and turns 41 in August.

Norway's Casper Ruud, fresh from reaching the French Open final, is the third seed, with Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas fourth. Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz is fifth, while Great Britain's Cameron Norrie, ninth on the list, receives his first top-10 seeding at Wimbledon.

Norrie is bumped up from his world ranking of number 12, given world number eight Andrey Rublev, another Russian, is prevented from competing.

The women's reigning champion Ash Barty has retired since capturing the title last July, so her successor as the dominant player on the WTA Tour, Swiatek, assumes the top seeding.

Swiatek has reeled off 35 consecutive match wins, dominating on hardcourts and clay, but she has less of a grass pedigree, albeit the 21-year-old Pole is a former junior Wimbledon champion.

Last year saw Swiatek lose in the fourth round to Tunisian Ons Jabeur, who is the third seed this time. Estonia's Anett Kontaveit is the second seed, with Wimbledon no longer making any allowances for grass-court prowess, as it used to when devising its seeding lists.

Britain's Emma Raducanu, like Norrie, is a Wimbledon top-10 seed for the first time. The shock US Open champion is seeded 10th, one ahead of the American teenager Coco Gauff.

The format means there will be dangerous unseeded players in the draw, notably Nick Kyrgios and two-time champion Andy Murray in the men's singles.

Serena Williams, the seven-time women's champion, is entered on a wildcard and is also unseeded. Williams, 40, has not played singles since abandoning her first-round match at Wimbledon last year due to injury, but entered this week's doubles event at Eastbourne, partnering Jabeur.


Men's top 10: 1. Novak Djokovic, 2. Rafael Nadal, 3. Casper Ruud, 4. Stefanos Tsitsipas, 5. Carlos Alcaraz, 6. Felix Auger-Aliassime, 7. Hubert Hurkacz, 8. Matteo Berrettini, 9. Cameron Norrie, 10. Jannik Sinner

Women's top 10: 1. Iga Swiatek, 2. Anett Kontaveit, 3. Ons Jabeur, 4. Paula Badosa, 5. Maria Sakkari, 6. Karolina Pliskova, 7. Danielle Collins, 8. Jessica Pegula, 9. Garbine Muguruza, 10. Emma Raducanu

World number one Iga Swiatek has withdrawn from the bett1open next week due to a shoulder injury.

Swiatek, who won her second grand slam title at the French Open last weekend, was due to start her grass-court season in Berlin a fortnight before Wimbledon gets under way.

But the all-conquering Pole pulled out of the WTA 500 tournament on Friday, revealing she will take time to rest ahead of the third major of the year at SW19.

Swiatek tweeted: "Due to a recurrent discomfort I am feeling in my shoulder, unfortunately I need to withdraw from the bett1open in Berlin.

"I'm sorry I will not be able to play there. I will focus on recovery and rest in order to be ready for Wimbledon."

Swiatek beat American teenager Coco Gauff 6-1 6-3 to regain the title at Roland Garros last Saturday.

That took the 21-year-old's winning run to a staggering 35 matches, one more than Serena Williams' best streak back in 2013. 

Venus Williams is the only other woman since the start of 2000 to have reeled off 35 consecutive victories, while Swiatek and Serena Williams are the only women in the same period to have won six titles in the first six months of a year.

Swiatek was beaten by Ons Jabeur in the fourth round at Wimbledon last year but is a strong favourite to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish for the first time next month.

Iga Swiatek said it was "special" to have produced a longer winning run than Serena Williams and ominously vowed she can take her game to another level after triumphing at the French Open.

The world number one outclassed Coco Gauff on Court Philippe-Chatrier to win her second grand slam title, beating the teenager 6-1 6-3.

Swiatek's victory was her 35th in a row, one more than Williams' best winning streak from 2013, and the Pole is the first player to prevail in nine WTA Tour finals in a row.

Venus Williams is the only other woman since the start of 2000 to have reeled off 35 consecutive victories, while Swiatek and Serena Williams are the only women in the same period to have won six titles in the first six months of a year.

Swiatek expressed her pride at having gone one better than superstar Serena.

She said: "It may seem pretty weird, but having that 35th win and kind of doing something more than Serena did, it's something special.

"Because I always wanted to have some kind of a record. In tennis it's pretty hard after Serena's career. So that really hit me.

"Obviously winning a grand slam too, but this one was pretty special because I felt like I've done something that nobody has ever done, and maybe it's gonna be even more. This one was special."

The two-time French Open champion added: "Before the match, before the tournament, I was like, 'Okay, is it going to be even possible to beat Serena's result?'.

"I realised that I would have to be in a final. I was, like, 'Ah, we will see how the first rounds are going to go'. I didn't even think about that before. But right now I feel like the streak is more important. I kind of confirmed my good shape."

Swiatek has been on another level to her rivals this year but says there is room for improvement.

"For sure," she said. "There is always something to improve, honestly. I'm still not a complete player. Especially, I feel like even on the net I could be more solid.

"This is something that Coco actually has, because I think she started working on that much, much earlier than me. There are many things. I'm not going to tell you, because it may sound like I'm concerned about some stuff."

Coco Gauff responded to a punishing defeat by Iga Swiatek in the French Open final by declaring: "Now I know that's what I have to do."

Blessed with wisdom beyond her years, the 18-year-old Gauff has made powerful statements on police brutality, LGBTQ rights and gun violence in her young life, and at the same time her impressive tennis game has continued to evolve.

On Saturday she contested the first grand slam final of her career and was reduced to tears after a 6-1 6-3 pummelling by Swiatek, who needed just an hour and eight minutes to cross the winning line.

Gauff was still feeling raw when she spoke in a post-match news conference, but she could yet leave Paris as a major champion, given she and fellow American Jessica Pegula face France's Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic in Sunday's doubles final.

At 18 years and 84 days, Gauff was the youngest women's grand slam singles finalist since Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004, but the 21-year-old Swiatek is a step ahead of her for now.

It has nonetheless been a fortnight of progress from Gauff, who said: "I don't know what my happiest moment has been. Hopefully it will be tomorrow if we can win in doubles. From the singles, obviously winning is the last hurdle, but reaching the final is almost as difficult because you are pretty close."

Mother Candi and father Corey brought along Gauff's younger brothers Codey and Cameron for the biggest moment of Coco's career to date. The clan have been playing cards together in the evening, and Gauff said she was winning in that contest.

The Gauffs watched on as Coco wept in her chair on court while Swiatek celebrated victory in the stands with family and her support team, the champion also sharing a hug with Poland and Bayern Munich footballer Robert Lewandowski.

Gauff reflected on the moment the tears came, saying: "I try really hard not to cry on the court. I feel happy really and sad, so it's like, I don't know how to handle it.

"I hate myself for crying. I have to get drug-tested and I told the lady, 'Do I look like I've been crying for so long?'.

"I don't know whether to smile or cry. Emotionally it's just a lot for me to handle."

But amid the sadness there was defiance, as Gauff said: "Tomorrow I'm going to wake up and be really proud of myself." 

World number one Swiatek extended her remarkable winning sequences to six consecutive titles and 35 match wins, and Gauff said her conqueror, like the now-retired Ash Barty before her, was setting a standard that the rest would have to strive to match.

"Now that I have seen the level, this level of number one and 35 matches, I know that's what I have to do," Gauff said. "I'm sure I'm going to play her in another final, and hopefully it's a different result."

Gauff, whose forehand was erratic, added: "In the match it probably looked like I was freaking out, but really it was just Iga was too good. I wasn't freaking out."

After the doubles final, Gauff will start to think about the grass season and Wimbledon.

She welcomed Swiatek sending a message of support to the people of invasion-hit Ukraine during her on-court victory speech.

"I think using sports as a platform is important," Gauff said. "For me, it's about influencing people and influencing the leaders that are in office and leaders around the world maybe to hear that message."

And as she left Roland Garros for the night, Gauff had wrestled back control of her emotions, having helped her family get over their own sorrow.

"After the match, my little brother was crying and I felt so bad, because I was trying to just tell him, 'It's just a tennis match'," Gauff said.

"I'm pretty happy and outgoing if people know me personally. For them to see me so upset, I think that's what hurt them the most. Tomorrow, or even tonight, we're going to play cards again and we are going to laugh and we are going to be fine."

Behind all the charm that Iga Swiatek brings to tennis, the relatable personality and the culture vulture sensibilities, there lies a ruthless champion.

Swiatek is now a two-time French Open winner, and goodness knows how many more grand slams the 21-year-old might add in the coming years.

The women's tour is not yet officially in a post-Williams era, but if Serena and Venus never play again, the game is surely in safe hands.

A 6-1 6-3 dismantling of Coco Gauff meant Saturday's showpiece was no classic Roland Garros final. Great champions don't care much about classics, though. It's all about getting the W, and stacking those up. Classics are great, but only if you win them.

Nobody in the 2000s has hit on a hotter streak than the one Swiatek is presently living through. This was a sixth consecutive title in 2022 for Swiatek and a 35th match win in succession. Venus Williams had a six-title, 35-win run in 2000, and Justine Henin reeled off six successive tournament triumphs from 2007 into 2008.

The Pole is the youngest winner of two or more grand slams since Maria Sharapova, at 19, added the 2006 US Open title to the Wimbledon crown she sensationally secured as a 17-year-old.

Swiatek is among elite company there, just as she was when she fist-bumped her hero, Rafael Nadal, before stepping onto court.

How far can Swiatek extend this run? Well, Martina Navratilova won 74 successive matches in 1984, a record for the WTA Tour.

As Swiatek collected the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen, she might have been aware that Lenglen, long before the WTA was formed in 1973, embarked on an even more staggering undefeated run.

The Frenchwoman is said to have strung together a 181-match winning streak in the 1920s. Some sources put it at 179, but at this stage we're splitting hairs.

When Gauff said at the post-match presentation that she hoped to play Swiatek in more finals, a beaming smile passed across the champion's face, but it faded just a little when Gauff said she hoped to pull off a win in future.

Swiatek, 21, overwhelmed first-time slam finalist Gauff, 18, on this occasion, but they might have many more big-stage matches to come. Swiatek has no interest in losing any such clash.

Based on their combined ages, this was billed as the 'youngest' Roland Garros final since 19-year-old Iva Majoli stunned 16-year-old favourite Martina Hingis in the 1997 showpiece.

The only grand slam final in the 21st century to feature two players with a lower combined age than the Swiatek-Gauff pairing was last year's US Open trophy match between Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez.

Ahead of this match, American great Pam Shriver spoke on the Tennis Podcast about facing the greats of the game in the 1970s and 1980s, saying: "I played through these amazing streaks of Chris Evert, Navratilova, Graf, Seles... but literally the quality of Swiatek's game right now is equal to the greatest of all time during their streaks. She's the real deal."

This match was won by Swiatek identifying a weakness – the Gauff forehand – and targeting it, constantly. There was no escape for Gauff, who would have recognised the shot was letting her down.

By the end of the third game, Gauff had already committed 10 unforced errors and was a double break down. Welcome to your first grand slam final, Coco.

When Gauff slapped a rare forehand winner, she let out a cry of satisfaction, but the Florida resident then lashed the next ball she faced into the tramlines.

It was a 6-3 6-1 trouncing in Swiatek's favour when these two met in Miami in March, and the Paris crowd were longing for more of a contest this time.

When Gauff broke serve and led 2-0 in the second set, Swiatek's supremacy was briefly in doubt. That didn't last long.

Swiatek swept through her next service game and soon had two break-back points when Gauff flung in a third double fault of the match. Then a forehand – of course it was the forehand – went just wide from Gauff and the set was back on serve.

What would the response be from Gauff? She was broken in a flash, and the contest was effectively finished.

How did the match end? With Gauff flinging a forehand service return long. Yes, this was a final with a theme.

Swiatek saw the disappointment in Gauff's face as she approached the net, and the embrace was a sympathetic one, followed by a consoling pat on the American's back.

To be clear, that means nothing for their future rivalry. Swiatek is cold-blooded until the final point has been played out.

The AC/DC and Led Zeppelin fan, who has been reading The Three Musketeers while in Paris and visited the Palace of Versailles last week, has this clinical flip side to her character.

She lost her first tour final to Polona Hercog as a 17-year-old in 2019, but since that defeat in Lugano has been formidable in trophy matches, winning nine now and only three times being extended as far as 6-4 in any set.

This is why there might be many more slams to come, and perhaps Wimbledon glory awaits in the coming weeks.

Swiatek won the French Open as the world number 54 and a virtual unknown two years ago and has shown she can handle the pressure of being the top seed and hot favourite this time.

Evert, speaking on Eurosport, was drawn into fantastical talk about Swiatek perhaps one day rivalling Nadal for Roland Garros titles. On Sunday, the Spaniard will go after his 14th such triumph.

"She has to get past my seven, doesn't she, before we talk about Rafa?" Evert said, shrewdly. "She can look and dream about winning 10 [grand slams], and it's very possible that she will, but I don't think specifically she's thinking, 'I can win this tournament 14 times'."

That will surely be beyond Swiatek, but Evert's haul, the most by a woman, may not be.

Iga Swiatek was congratulated by Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski after she successfully regained her French Open crown.

The world number one was embraced by her Polish compatriot after a comprehensive 6-1 6-3 win over Coco Gauff at Roland Garros.

Swiatek and Lewandowski are among the pre-eminent Polish sports stars of this generation, and shared in their delight at the former's triumph.

Victory for the 21-year-old on Court Philippe-Chatrier extends her winning streak to 35 matches and saw her reclaim the title she won for the first time in 2020.

Lewandowski meanwhile is in Paris between games with Poland in the UEFA Nations League.

The veteran forward played in his country's 2-1 friendly win over Wales on Wednesday and is expected to feature against Belgium next week.

Iga Swiatek sent a message of support for Ukraine after beating Coco Gauff to regain the French Open title on Saturday.

The all-conquering world number one extended her winning run to a staggering 35 matches with a dominant 6-1 6-3 victory on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Swiatek has been in a class of her own this year, winning six consecutive tournaments and doubling her tally of grand slam crowns two years after claiming her first at Roland Garros.

The Pole, who turned 21 on Tuesday, also showed her class when she offered her support for Ukraine amid the Russian invasion.

She said during her on-court interview: "Two years ago, winning this title was something amazing that I wouldn't have expected ever. This time I worked hard to get here.

"Thank you all the fans for coming, all the Polish flags I can see over there. It's good to have you and lean on you in my toughest moments. It's always a great atmosphere here, and I always have extra motivation every time I come here.

"I also wanted to say something to Ukraine, to stay strong, because the war is still there. Since it started, I was hoping when I do the next [tournament] the situation will be better, but I will still have hope."

Swiatek also praised 18-year-old American Gauff, who was outclassed in her first major final and reduced to tears after a straight-sets defeat in Paris.

She said to the teenager: "I want to congratulate you, because you are doing an amazing job. You are progressing all the time. You will find it, and you will be there, I am pretty sure of that.

"I want to thank my team – without you, I wouldn't be here, I'm sure of that. I'm glad every piece has come together and we can do this. We deserve to be here. Thanks for your full support all the time, no matter what.

"Also to my dad, I wouldn't be here without him, so I have to thank him for everything. Everyone who is in my box, thank you all."

Coco Gauff shed tears as she soaked up defeat to Iga Swiatek after the American teenager suffered a drubbing in the French Open final.

With her forehand misfiring, Gauff suffered a 6-1 6-3 loss to the world number one.

It was a gruelling first experience of a grand slam final for the 18-year-old, as she fell to a player who triumphed at Roland Garros for a second time.

Gauff will likely have her day again on such a big stage, but this was a harrowing experience at times.

As Swiatek celebrated, Gauff sat alone with her thoughts as thunder rumbled in the skies above. She was quietly crying, as was perfectly understandable for one so young, but wiped the tears away with her towel.

In a post-match speech, she said: "This is the first time for me, so let's try to get through this.

"First, I want to congratulate Iga, what you've done on tour the past couple of months has truly been amazing, and you totally deserve it.

"Hopefully we can play each other in more finals, and maybe I can get a win on you one of these days."

For Swiatek, this was a sixth consecutive title and a 35th match win in a row.

Gauff had not dropped a set in Paris leading up to the final, but she had faced only one seed, number 31 Elise Mertens in round four.

"Next, I'd like to thank my team," Gauff said. "I'm sorry I wasn't able to get this one today."

This was when the tears began to seriously flow as Gauff broke off to gather herself.

The composure returned, and Gauff added: "Hopefully this is the first final of many, and I really appreciate you guys a lot. You helped me so much throughout this year."

She thanked all and sundry, including the crowd, saying: "Thank you, you guys, you supported me even when I was down. Even when I was down match points, you were still cheering me on. That means a lot, so truly thank you."

Gauff ended her speech and, wandering off stage, could be heard to say: "I don't know where to go..."

The only way is up, surely, but this was not to be her day.

Iga Swiatek stretched her incredible winning run to 35 matches by beating Coco Gauff in straight sets to regain the French Open title.

The ruthless world number one outclassed Gauff on Court Philippe-Chatrier, beating the 18-year-old American 6-1 6-3 in only 68 minutes.

Swiatek, 21, was relentless at Roland Garros on Saturday, winning her second grand slam title two years after claiming her first in Paris.

The top seed was broken for the only time at the start of the second set, but otherwise hardly put a foot wrong and won six games in a row to get her hands on the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen again after winning a sixth consecutive tournament.

Gauff, the 18th seed, could still win a maiden major title when she teams up with Jessica Pegula in the women's doubles final on Sunday.

A nervy Gauff was broken in the first game when she drilled a forehand long, with an aggressive Swiatek consolidating that break courtesy of a rasping forehand winner after a great serve.

The teenager was struggling with her forehand and made a string of errors as the composed Swiatek secured a double break for a 3-0 lead.

There was a big cheer for Gauff when she held to get on the board at 4-1, but Swiatek continued to dictate with her excellent serve, power, precision and athleticism, raising her fist after a majestic forehand winner put her a game away from winning the first set.

Swiatek had the set wrapped up in only 32 minutes when Gauff put a backhand wide after another glorious backhand winner from the top seed.

Gauff was not feeling sorry for herself and had a first break in the opening game of the second set as the favourite fired a forehand into the tramlines.

She was unable to build on that strong start to the set, putting a forehand wide after a double fault to ensure Swiatek was back on serve at 2-1.

The momentum was firmly with Swiatek as Gauff continued to make too many errors, winning six games in a row to take the title, with her opponent firing a return long to end a one-sided final.

At the end of a week in which Amelie Mauresmo said there is "more attraction and appeal" in the modern men's game, Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff get a showpiece stage to show the rising stars of the WTA Tour can be box office too.

Former women's number one Mauresmo, who is now tournament director at the French Open, sparked upset for many when she explained why nine out of 10 evening session matches at Roland Garros were men's clashes.

The lone exception was the second-round match between France's Alize Cornet and Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko, but on Saturday the women are at the heart of the action as world number one Swiatek, on a 34-match winning streak, tackles the exceptional American Gauff, the youngest Roland Garros finalist since Kim Clijsters 20 years ago.

Saturday's title contenders have a combined age of 39 – Swiatek turned 21 this week and Gauff is 18 – making it the 'youngest' Roland Garros final since 19-year-old Iva Majoli stunned 16-year-old favourite Martina Hingis in the 1997 trophy match.

The only grand slam final in the 21st century to feature two players with a lower combined age than the Swiatek-Gauff pairing was last year's US Open trophy match between Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez.

Both have plenty to gain, with heavy favourite Swiatek arguably having the most to lose. Ahead of their showdown, Stats Perform looks at two players who belong in the spotlight, day or night.


Super Swiatek will be hard to stop

In terms of the head-to-head between these two, we are in the early stages. While Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have fought out an epochal 59-match rivalry on the men's tour, this is just meeting number three between Swiatek and Gauff, with Swiatek winning both to date, including a 6-3 6-1 trouncing in Miami in March.

Swiatek would become just the fifth top seed in 25 years to triumph in the women's singles if she gets the job done. She triumphed in 2020 when ranked a lowly 54th and as a relative unknown.

If she gets the win and improves to 9-1 in singles finals across her career, Swiatek will achieve the longest streak of victories on the women's tour since Venus Williams also strung together 35 in 2000. The young Polish player would also become the youngest winner of two or more grand slams since Maria Sharapova, at 19, added the 2006 US Open title to the Wimbledon crown she secured as a 17-year-old.

Swiatek has won 15 matches in a row on clay, the most consecutive successes by a WTA Tour player since Serena Williams strung together 20 from 2015 to 2016.

The AC/DC and Led Zeppelin fan had won five consecutive titles leading into this fortnight (Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart and Rome) and can become the first woman to land six in a row since Justine Henin reeled off victories in Toronto, at the US Open, Stuttgart, Zurich, the WTA Finals, and Sydney in the latter months of 2007 and beginning of 2008.


Gauff's moment arrives

She was Wimbledon's youngest qualifier of the Open Era in 2019, and ever since that breakthrough moment Gauff has stood out as a player and person of increasingly great stature.

A mature, wise head on her shoulders has seen Gauff make powerful statements on important matters such as police brutality, LGBTQ rights and gun violence, and at the same time her tennis continues to dazzle.

She has been as high as number 15 in the world and is heading towards a low single-digit ranking very soon. In Paris this fortnight, Gauff has yet to drop a set, unlike Swiatek, who lost one to the impressive qualifier Zheng Qinwen in the quarter-finals.

So here's the skinny: Gauff, at 18 years and 84 days, will be the youngest women's grand slam singles finalist since Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004; she has broken serve 35 times in six matches at this edition of Roland Garros; she is through to the doubles final too, with Jessica Pegula.

She is the third American woman aged under 19 to reach this French Open final, after Chris Evert in 1973 and Andrea Jaeger in 1982, and among all WTA players, only Monica Seles, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and Steffi Graf have taken the title at a younger age in Paris during the Open Era.

Gauff has such self-belief she will know the number one can be toppled, as history has told us. Since November 1975, when computer rankings were introduced on the women's tour, four teenagers have beaten the WTA number one player in the French Open final.

Should Gauff pull off the shock on Saturday, she will be following in the footsteps of Graf (beat Navratilova, 1987), Sanchez-Vicario (beat Graf, 1989), Monica Seles (beat Graf, 1990) and Majoli (beat Hingis, 1997).

There is a growing sense that, like Swiatek, Gauff will eventually be remembered in the company of such luminaries, and now she has to go out and prove it.

Seven-time French Open winner Evert this week called it "destiny", adding on Twitter: "We saw greatness 3 summers ago. We've all been waiting for this!"

Iga Swiatek says she hopes to form a "special rivalry" with Coco Gauff as the pair prepare to meet in the French Open final.

World number one Swiatek extended her sensational winning run to 34 with a straight-sets semi-final victory over Daria Kasatkina on Thursday at Roland Garros.

The Pole is the first player to reach six or more finals on the WTA Tour in the first six months of the year since Serena Williams in 2013 (seven), but next faces the in-form Gauff.

Teenage star Gauff breezed past Martina Trevisan in the last four, winning in straight sets, as she became just the sixth American player in the Open era to reach the showpiece in Paris without dropping a set.

That made the 18-year-old the third-youngest grand slam finalist this century, the youngest American female French Open finalist since Monica Seles in 1991 and the youngest overall since Kim Clijsters in 2001.

The pair have long been familiar with each other, though, having featured on the junior circuit. Swiatek won the girl's event at Wimbledon just four years ago, shortly after Gauff's junior Roland Garros success.

And Swiatek cannot wait to develop a rivalry in senior tennis with the world number 23.

"I like watching Coco Gauff – my opponent in the Roland Garros final on Saturday – and maybe this will become a special rivalry for years to come," she wrote on BBC Sport.

"I feel like she's been on tour longer than me and she's only 18. Coco has great potential and I hope she will keep improving. I think this tournament has shown she is on the right path.

"I remember Coco winning the French Open juniors in 2018 when I really wanted to win. I didn't play against her, though, because I lost to Caty McNally in the semi-finals.

"But when Coco won – she was only 14 – I was like 'great, I worked so hard and a girl three years younger than me is winning junior Grand Slams'!

"It was tough for teenage me to take but I've progressed well since.

"When I got to meet her more on the WTA Tour, I could see she was staying on a really good level and she deserves her success.

"We don't talk to each other loads when we're at tournaments, just because we're both kind of shy! It is pretty hard for introverted people to bond but I really like her.

"I feel she is really humble and focused on the job. It seems like she is having fun and has good people around her."

Victory for Gauff would make her the seventh player to win the girls' and women's singles titles in Paris, but Swiatek knows it is not just the American she will have to contend with in the future.

US Open winner Emma Raducanu was another challenger cited by Swiatek, who also expects 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez to prove stern competition in the coming years.

"Rivalries are one of the most fun things about sport and there have been some great ones in the history of tennis," Swiatek continued.

"On Tuesday night we all saw Rafael Nadal play Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros and that is one of the greatest ever rivalries.

"It is amazing how many matches Rafa and Novak have played against each other and how many they have played in the deep stages of the tournaments.

"Many of their meetings have been in semi-finals or finals, it shows that the competition between them drives them to higher levels.

"It would be nice to have a rivalry, one that would push me to excel, to be more intense and that will challenge me to play my best tennis. I could imagine that.

"I wouldn't want to have a record like Maria Sharapova did against Serena Williams, she won two of their 20 matches. Of course it sometimes happens and numbers aren't always the most important.

"The goal is to enjoy tennis matches but, of course, also to win.

"I've never thought about who exactly I would like to develop a special rivalry with. It is hard to predict who will stay at the top of the WTA Tour and be consistent.

"As well as Coco and maybe Emma Raducanu, I think Leylah Fernandez has the ability to potentially challenge for the Grand Slam trophies.

"Leylah has already made two great runs – the quarter-finals here this year and the 2021 US Open final – and if she continues to play that well at more tournaments I think she will be near the top of the rankings."

Coco Gauff sees Iga Swiatek as the favourite in the French Open final but promised to play with freedom as the outcome at Roland Garros will not change her life either way.

The teenager breezed past Martina Trevisan in straight sets in Paris on Thursday, with the 18-year-old reaching the showpiece on Saturday without dropping a set.

In the Open era, she is just the sixth American to reach the final two at Roland Garros without losing a set, while she also became the third-youngest grand slam finalist this century.

The achievements continued to come in for Gauff, who is the youngest American female finalist in Paris since Monica Seles in 1991 and the youngest overall since Kim Clijsters in 2001.

However, the in-form Swiatek stands in her way of a first major title, with the world number one heading into the contest on a remarkable 34-match winning run.

The Pole is the first player to reach six or more finals on the WTA Tour in the first six months of the year since Serena Williams in 2013 (seven), and Gauff feels she has nothing to lose against Swiatek.

"It definitely means a lot. I'm so happy, and definitely – I wasn't expecting it," she said after defeating Trevisan. 

"I'm going to be honest. This year I hadn't had the best results going into this. So it wasn't expected at all, really.

"Playing Iga, she's on a streak right now obviously, and I think going in I have nothing to lose and she's definitely the favourite going into the match on paper.

"But I think that going in, I'm just going to play free and play my best tennis. I think in a grand slam final anything can happen. If I do lift the trophy, honestly, I don't think my life is going to change really.

"I know it sounds kind of bad to say that, but the people who love me are still going to love me regardless if I lift the trophy or not.

"It will probably get me more attention from the people around the world. But in general, I'm not worried about how my life is going to change because I really don't think it's going to change."

Victory for Gauff would make her the seventh player to win the girls' and women's singles titles in Paris, after lifting the junior title just four years ago.

Swiatek subsequently won the Wimbledon junior title the same season, and Gauff is delighted the pair's paths will cross again at senior level.

"I knew her from juniors, but we never spoke really until we both got on tour," she added. "I remember here specifically I was actually preparing to play her in the final, and then she had a match point against my – well, not my doubles partner this tournament, but normally Caty McNally, and Caty saved a match point against her and I ended up playing Caty in the final.

"I just remember that from the juniors. Obviously going on the tour, we spoke and she's super nice. I think that's something I really admire about her.

"I have known Iga – I don't know her well-well, but I have known her since she was probably ranked lower, and now that she's [world] number one, and I will say that nothing has really changed other than her tennis.

"But behind the scenes, she's as nice as I think you guys see in the press conferences. I think that's really important and rare to see, so I definitely congratulate her on that aspect."

Junior memories aside, Gauff believes she is more than ready to win a grand slam but insists she will not put pressure on herself.

"I think that version was ready to win a slam, but I think she almost wanted it too much, that she put way too much pressure on herself," she said of her comments previously about winning a major.

"Now I'm definitely ready to win one but I'm not putting pressure on myself to win one. I think there's a fine line between believing in yourself and almost pushing yourself too much.

"I think at that moment I was pushing myself too much to do the results, whereas when I was in the quarter-final, I didn't even enjoy the moment. I didn't even care really.

"Now, being in the final, I'm enjoying it. I think there is definitely a difference between [being] ready and almost wanting it too much. I think at that moment I wanted it too much, whereas now I definitely want it.

"But also, it's not going to be the end of the world if it doesn't happen for me."

French Open director Amelie Mauresmo has apologised for suggesting women's tennis lacks the "appeal" of the men's game after drawing the ire of world number one Iga Swiatek.

Mauresmo – herself a former two-time grand slam winner who made the French Open quarter-finals on two occasions – made the comments while discussing the lack of women's matches played during the night sessions at Roland Garros.

This is the first edition of the French Open to feature night sessions – but women's matches under the floodlights have been few and far between to date.

On Wednesday, Mauresmo suggested this was down to the men's game being more popular with spectators, saying: "In this era that we are in right now, I don't feel – and as a woman and former player, I don't feel bad or unfair saying that right now you have more attraction. Can you say that? Appeal? For the men's matches."

Those comments were labelled "disappointing and surprising" by top seed Swiatek, who will play teenager Coco Gauff in Saturday's final.

But Mauresmo has now apologised for the comment, telling the Tennis Channel: "I want to say sorry to the players that really felt bad about what I said.

"The comments that I made were taken out of the wider picture, out of the context. Because we have one match only, I feel that it's really tougher to schedule a women's match because we have to take into consideration the length [of the match]. I feel it's the fair kind of thing to do for the ticket holders.

"I think the people who know me, who've known me on and off the court, throughout my career, throughout everything that I've done, know that I'm a big fighter for equal rights and women's tennis, women in general."

The scheduling of night matches in the French capital has attracted other criticisms since the tournament began, with 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal claiming "it is too late, without a doubt" after his five-set quarter-final win over Novak Djokovic ended at 1:15am local time on Wednesday.

While the sessions will stay on the agenda at future editions, Mauresmo insists concerns over late finishing times, as well as the balance between men's and women's matches being showcased at favourable broadcast times, must be reviewed after the tournament.

"I feel that next year, in order to be able to be more fair to the women players, as well as to both categories actually, it would be good to maybe have the possibility to put two matches or maybe a women's match plus a doubles match," Mauresmo added.

"[We will] try to find a better solution to be fair to everyone. We tried to modernise the event. We tried to move forward, and I can see that there are some adjustments to be made, that's for sure. We're going to talk about it after the tournament."

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