Iga joins marquee list of teen queens in Paris

Polish 19-year-old becomes first teenager to lift the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen since 1997.

Iga Swiatek, Roland Garros 2020, semi-finals© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT
 - Danielle Rossingh

Iga Swiatek pulled off a rare achievement at Roland-Garros.

At 19 years of age, the Polish sensation became the youngest winner of the women’s title since Monica Seles in 1992.

Victory in the final against American Sofia Kenin on Saturday made Swiatek the first teenage champion in the women’s draw since 19-year-old Iva Majoli lifted the 1997 trophy.

Rolandgarros.com takes a look at the past five teenagers to win the Roland-Garros women’s title.

Iva Majoli (1997)

The 19-year-old Majoli made tennis history in 1997, when she beat Martina Hingis of Switzerland 6-4, 6-2 to become the first Croatian to win the women’s title.

Although Hingis had come to Paris as the heavy favourite with a 40-match win streak, which included winning the Australian Open, Majoli broke the 16-year-old two times in the first set, and once in the second set to win the title. The ninth-seeded Majoli had been the lowest-seeded woman to win since tennis turned professional in 1997.

“I was just feeling in control all the time,” Majoli said after winning her first and only major title. ''Before the match, I felt like this was it; this could be the one.''

Seven years later, Majoli quit the sport, citing a lack of motivation after struggling with a string of injuries.

Iva Majoli, Roland Garros 1997, trophy shoot© FFT

Monica Seles (1990)

The 16-year-old Seles took Paris by storm in 1990 when she beat two-time winner Steffi Graf 7-6, 6-4 to become the youngest winner at Roland-Garros.

“It's incredible because this is where it all started for me last year, getting into the semis,” said Seles, who had lost to Graf in Paris the year before. “But at the age of 15, I couldn't beat her mentally, and physically I wasn't as strong. But today in the final, my strategy was to just play as well as I could, no tactics; just think about it like I was in a match on my home court, and not be afraid of her.”

Seles, whose aggressive baseline game was often accompanied by a loud grunt, also won in 1991 and 1992. Born in the Serbian part of the former Yugoslavia to ethnic-Hungarian parents, she was was so utterly dominant in the early 1990s, she had won eight major singles titles by the time she was 20.

Had it not been for a tragic on-court stabbing by a deranged fan of Graf in Hamburg in 1993, which sidelined for her two years, her reign on the Parisian clay would no doubt have continued for many more years. Although Seles won the 1996 Australian Open title and reach the 1998 final in Paris, she was never the same dominant force again.

Monica Seles, Roland Garros 1990© Liliane Chedikian/FFT

Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario (1989)

The 10th-ranked Sanchez Vicario was just 17 when she stunned the heavily-favoured Graf in the 1989 final, 7-6, 3-6, 7-5. The Barcelona native had to fight like a lion to beat Graf, who had been trying to win her sixth Grand Slam singles title in a row.

Sanchez-Vicario saved two set points at 5-6 in the first set, clinched a close tie-break in the second set and rallied back from 5-3 down in the third to close it out.

The normally cool Graf was so impressed, she hugged the Spaniard at the net after their epic match concluded.

“I fought for three hours to win the tournament of my life, the one I've been dreaming about,” said Sanchez-Vicario after beating Graf. “I'm very proud.”

Their 1989 clash at Roland-Garros was the start of one of the sport’s most entertaining rivalries. The pair would play each other 36 times, with Graf winning 28 matches.

Sanchez-Vicario announced her retirement in 2002, having won 29 career titles, including two more Roland-Garros championships and the US Open. She rose to the No.1 ranking in 1995, and reached the final of all majors at least once.

Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Roland Garros 1989© FFT

Steffi Graf (1987)

Graf was just 17 when she beat Martina Navratilova, 6-4, 4-6, 8-6 in the final of Roland-Garros. Looking back, that match marked a turning point in the women’s game as Graf took over as the dominant figure, going on to win 22 Grand Slam singles titles.

The German held her nerve on a windy day in Paris, but Navratilova had her chance, breaking to lead 5-3 in the third set, having attacked the Graf backhand mercilessly. But at 5-3, she double-faulted and Graf went on to break back. Another double fault from the usually perfect Navratilova serve, at 6-7, gave Graf the match.

"I'm happy and sorry I won the match," Graf said. "I'm sorry for those double faults. If she wouldn't have double faulted, I don't think I would have won.

Two months later, Graf took the world No.1 ranking from Navratilova and never really looked back.

Steffi Graf, Roland Garros 1987©FFT

Hana Mandlikova (1981)

Hana Mandlikova had already won her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open at the beginning of 1981 and reached her first Roland-Garros final thanks to a straight-sets win over Chris Evert, who had won the title in each of the past two years.

Aged 19, the tall Czech found herself up against German Sylvia Hanika, who was through to her first and, as it proved, only Grand Slam final, and she ran out a convincing 6-2, 6-4 victor.

"I am very happy because everybody was telling me I could be the best on grass," Mandlikova said. "But I beat Chris Evert Lloyd on clay and I am now the French Open champion."

The win put Mandlikova halfway to the coveted calendar-year Grand Slam but her hopes of winning all four Slams in the same year ended when she lost to Evert in the final at Wimbledon the following month.

Hana Mandlikova, Roland Garros 2020©FFT