August 20, 2022

When Iga Świątek won her second French Open this month, she also won her 35th consecutive match, matching Venus Williams’ run in 2000. This week, Świątek will aim to continue her streak at Wimbledon, where she is the lead series.

Świątek is enjoying one of the best runs in WTA history. Earlier this year, she became the youngest player to win Indian Wells and Miami in the same season.

But how does Świątek’s sublime stretch compare to streaks from other big names in the sport, such as Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf?

In some ways, Świątek fell short of even the best. For example, in 1984, Navratilova won 74 consecutive matches, the longest winning streak in women’s tennis in the Open era.

But in other ways, Świątek has been just as dominant as the icons she pursues. She’s already surpassed Serena Williams’ 34-game streak since 2013, and Świątek’s recent dominance rivals anyone in the history of the sport.

“To have that 35th win and to do something more than Serena is something special. Because I always wanted…to have some kind of record. In tennis, it’s quite difficult after Serena’s career” , Świątek said, “The hardest part is not allowing yourself to think about it and over-analyze.”

In some of her matches, she had little time to think because they ended so quickly. Świątek has won 15 sets 6-0 since beginning their winning streak in Doha, Qatar in February. Compared to the first 35 matches of the two best winning streaks in women’s tennis in the Open era, Świątek’s 6-0 tally is superior.

Graf won 66 straight matches in a streak that lasted 1989-90 and compiled 13 6-0 sets in the first 35 matches of his streak. In the first 35 wins of her longest streak, Navratilova won seven sets 6-0.

In other respects, however, Navratilova and Graf surpassed Świątek. Navratilova and Graf have won almost 96% of their sets in the first 35 matches of their streaks. In his streak, Świątek won 92% of his sets.

Of the three streaks, Świątek has the second highest winning percentage. She has won 71% of the 638 matches she has played, against Navratilova, who has won just under 71% of 617 matches. Graf leads the trio, having won nearly 77% of 571 games in the first 35 games of his streak.

Pam Shriver, a 1978 US Open singles finalist and 22-time Grand Slam doubles champion, isn’t surprised that Świątek’s stats are among the best ever. She thought about it as she watched Świątek drop a single set en route to her second Grand Slam title earlier this month.

“It definitely reminded me of dominating the best winning streaks in women’s tennis history,” Shriver told me. “It was really impressive. It’s not like she was lucky.

Shriver knows greatness and winning streaks well. In singles, she played Navratilova 43 times and Graf 12. In doubles, 20 of Shriver’s 22 major titles have been won with Navratilova. And during Navratilova’s 74-game winning streak, Shriver lost to her twice, including a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 loss just before the 1984 US Open.

Shriver sees similarities between the games of the three champions. All three are superb movers and put their opponent on defense quickly, Shriver said. Świątek uses her forehand, as does Graf, while Navratilova relied on her stifling serve and volley style.

The trio also possess a strong sense of conviction, Shriver said. Świątek travels with a psychologist, Daria Abramowicz.

What surprises Shriver is how Świątek played before his winning streak. In her previous 35 games, Świątek was a 22-13 walker, while Navratilova and Graf dominated. Navratilova went 34-1; Graf, 33-2.

“Something kicked it into a new gear,” Shriver said. “[T]the pipe numbers are interesting and make you wonder… if Iga [is] just had one of those incredible great streaks and will settle back into a 22-13 type game or if his high level will last over time like Martina and Steffi did.

The most important stat in any winning streak, of course, is its final number. How long can the player withstand the mounting pressure and constant chatter that comes with a long streak?

At Wimbledon, Świątek can add seven more wins to his tally. She never made it past the fourth round of the grass-court major championship. Still, she is by far the betting favorite to push her streak to 42 games and celebrate her third Grand Slam title. After that, to catch Navratilova, Świątek will only have 32 games to play.