Poland's Iga Swiatek has made the stunning admission that she was left in tears "for 40 minutes" after hearing the news that Ash Barty was retiring from tennis.
The Australian three-time major winner shocked the world last month when she called time on an incredible career at the tender age of just 25.
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Barty's stunning decision meant Swiatek was this week confirmed as the new World No.1 in women's tennis, following an incredible run of form in 2022.
Swiatek became the first woman in history to win the first three WTA 1000 titles in a calendar year, brushing Osaka aside 6-4 6-0 to claim the Miami Open title last week.
However, the Polish superstar has poured her heart out about Barty's retirement after admitting that the announcement left her completely stunned.
“I was crying for 40 minutes,” Swiatek told BBC Sport.
“Mainly, it was because of Ash’s retirement. I didn’t know it was going to happen and it really surprised me.
“I always had this vision that we would all play until we are 35 or something, until our bodies are so tired that we can’t any more.
“I needed time to actually understand what she must have thought. Her decision was really brave and I felt a lot of emotions because of that.”
The 20-year-old admits that the enormity of becoming Poland's first-ever World No.1 in tennis, was a lot to deal with after Barty's retirement.
“I also felt emotional because of my own position,” she added.
“I realised after two hours of being really emotional that, ‘Hey, you don’t know what is going to happen yet and you still have to win some matches’.
“So I told myself, ‘Let’s wait with the emotions and with being excited because I have work to do’.”
Iga Swiatek flying after clinching 'Sunshine Double'
Swiatek was able to push past her emotions and brush aside the challenge from Osaka to clinch the Miami Open title in ruthless fashion.
The 20-year-old from Poland joined a rare club by completing tennis' “Sunshine Double” after winning back-to-back titles on the US hardcourts of Indian Wells and Miami.
“I feel privileged to be among those players who have done this double before, I knew it would be tough playing these tournaments in a row but I took it step by step,” Swiatek said.
“I was in the zone in the second set — that’s the easiest way for me to be dominant. I was surprised I could handle all these matches.
“I am still the same person though. My idols were like that and I don’t want the success to change me in a negative way. It gives me confidence.”
Following her extraordinary run of success in the United States, Swiatek announced that she's pulled out of this week's Charleston tournament.
Swiatak said cumulative fatigue was on the verge of leaving her injured.
"Sorry everyone but after playing a marathon three finals I'm tired, and have a slightly injured arm," she explained.
The Polish 20-year-old became only the fourth - and youngest - player to win the "Sunshine Double" of Indian Wells and Miami in the same year following Steffi Graf, Kim Cljisters and Victoria Azarenka with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Osaka.
Swiatek has now won 17 straight games, a winning streak that includes titles in Doha, Indian Wells and Miami.
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