Iga Swiatek answers if she has safety concerns after protestors stormed Rome Open

Swiatek addresses protestors interrupting play in Rome earlier this week.

by Dzevad Mesic
Iga Swiatek answers if she has safety concerns after protestors stormed Rome Open
© Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

Iga Swiatek says she currently has no safety concerns amid protestors interrupting the Rome Open but admitted that there was a time when the infamous Monica Seles stabbing incident went through her head. 

Over the last few years, activists from various groups have managed to storm and interrupt play at tennis tournaments, including the Australian Open, French Open and US Open. 

At the ongoing Rome Open, the latest incident of that happening came on Monday when a group of climate protestors stormed the Rome Open and managed to interrupt play on two courts but were preventing from doing the same on a third court. 

Madison Keys, ranked at No. 16 in the world, was in the middle of action versus Sorana Cirstea when a group of protestors threw confetti on the court and tried to glue themselves to the stands. That stopped the match for an hour and an interruption also happened on another court, where a doubles match was taking place. 

After managing to put the incident past her and seal a 6-2 6-1 win over Cirstea, Keys admitted that she instantly started having certain fears for her safety after seeing a group of protestors storming the court. 

“It’s not the greatest feeling when you’re on the court. Your first thought is your safety. I think maybe banning cement and glue from bags would be a start," Keys said after the match.

Madison Keys
Madison Keys© Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

Swiatek on if she has safety concerns amid the Rome incident

On Monday, world No. 1 Swiatek was also in action but protestors didn't make their way onto the court when she was playing against Angelique Kerber. The following day, Swiatek returned to the court and also beat Keys 6-1 6-3 to progress into the Rome quarterfinal. 

Since just a day earlier Keys' match was interrupted by protestors, Swiatek was asked if she felt there was something tournaments could do to better prevent that from happening and was also asked if there were any safety concerns on her part.

"Well, obviously probably the best way is to increase security. I'm not really sure how the security works because I've never had any situation where they had to kind of react when I was on court," Swiatek said.

"I didn't see the protest yesterday. I heard that there's something going on. I didn't see it. I don't know if they were actually close to players or not.

"Well, there aren't many thoughts. People want attention and they're willing to do anything to get it. That's how our world works right now.

"For sure, well, when I kind of saw what happened to Monica Seles, I for sure had a couple of weeks where I thought about it sometimes.

"The only thing you need to do is to trust that, if the situation happens, WTA will be ready with their security to react. That's all."

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek© Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

Swiatek on growing up with certain players and facing Coco Gauff next

In Rome, Gauff - who turned 20 in March - took a moment to step back and reflect how funny it is meeting some players for the first time in juniors and then having them as your rival for the next 10 or 15 years. 

Swiatek, who is a bit older than Gauff since she is turning 23 later this month, acknowledged she didn't play the American in juniors but added that she remembers some of the players she competed against during that period. 

"I think it's fun. I think that's how we create kind of a bigger story sometimes behind these matches. So I like it. It's a challenge. It's interesting I think for the fans, as well," Swiatek said.

"Yeah, for sure there are plenty of players that I played against in juniors. For sure, I'm happy that I'm the one that got to the top of the rankings.

"Yeah, but I still remember. I haven't played Coco in juniors. I only kind of remember her when she won Roland Garros and I lost in the semifinal against Caty McNally. You know these names.

"Life is pretty tricky. One decision you make when you're 17 can kind of create totally different path. I'm just fortunate that I made good decisions and I had good people around me so I can be here. Coco, I guess she feels pretty similar."

Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff
Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff © Getty Images Sport - Ryan Pierse

On Thursday, Swiatek and Gauff will be meeting for the 11th time in their respective careers. Heading into the match, Swiatek owns a very dominant 9-1 head-to-head versus Gauff and she certainly enters the Rome match as the big favorite. 

Interestingly, Swiatek and Gauff played for the first time exactly three years ago when the Pole beat the American 7-6 (3) 6-3 in the Rome semifinal before also going on to beat Karolina Pliskova in the final and lift her first Rome title.

Iga Swiatek Rome Open