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5 youngest female players to have won at least 2 French Open titles in the Open Era ft. Iga Swiatek, Monica Seles and Steffi Graf

From L-R: Monica Seles, Iga Swiatek, Steffi Graf
From L-R: Monica Seles, Iga Swiatek, Steffi Graf
Dr. Balraj Shukla

In 2014, Maria Sharapova won her second title at the French Open, ushering in a new era for women's tennis at the claycourt Slam. Since then, Roland Garros has seen a first-time champion in the women's singles event each year excluding 2015, when Williams won and this year, when Swiatek won.

Before the 2022 French Open, there were only three instances in the 21st century where a woman won two or more titles at Roland Garros in a span of three years - Justine Henin (2005-07), Serena Williams (2013, 2015) and Maria Sharapova (2012, 2014).

Iga Swiatek, who had previously won the Roland Garros title in 2020 after defeating Sofia Kenin in the final, became the first player since Serena Williams to win at least two French Open titles in a span of three years.

Swiatek defeated first-time finalist Coco Gauff 6-1, 6-3 to win the second Slam of her career. Swiatek dropped only one set, to Zheng Qinwen, en route to her French Open title.

Interestingly, among the players who have won multiple Roland Garros titles in the Open Era, Swiatek is not the youngest to capture at least two crowns.

Here's a look at five players who made it to this unique club and where Swiatek ranks amongst them:

#1 Monica Seles: 17 years and 6 months

Monica Seles with the Suzanne-Lenglen Trophy at the 1990 French Open
Monica Seles with the Suzanne-Lenglen Trophy at the 1990 French Open

Monica Seles made her mark in tennis at the 1990 French Open when she won the title aged 16 years and six months. She set a then record for the youngest winner at a Major in the Open Era, which was broken by Martina Hingis in 1997 at the Australian Open.

To date, Seles remains the youngest champion in the French Open. In 1990, as the second seed, Seles defeated top seed Steffi Graf in the final 7-6(6), 6-4.

The following year, Seles won her second Major title at Roland Garros. As the defending champion, she faced former champion Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the final. The Spaniard succumbed to Seles in straight sets, making the Yugoslav teenager the youngest player to hold two French Open titles.

Seles defended her title once again in 1992 and went on to win eight Slams as a teenager. Due to an unfortunate stabbing incident in 1993 that affected her physically and mentally, the Yugoslav-turned-American never hit the same heights again and finished her career with nine Slam titles.

#2 Steffi Graf: 18 years and 11 months

Steffi Graf with the final singles Slam title of her career at the 1999 French Open
Steffi Graf with the final singles Slam title of her career at the 1999 French Open

Before Monica Seles started dominating the women's tour, it was Steffi Graf who was ruling the women's circuit. At the age of 17, Graf won her maiden Slam at the 1987 French Open, defeating Martina Navratilova in three sets in the final.

The next two years of Graf's career are considered by many to be the greatest seasons by any female player in tennis. In 1988, Graf completed the Calendar Golden Slam, i.e., winning all four Slams and an Olympic gold medal in the same year. At Roland Garros, Graf defeated Natasha Zvereva 6-0, 6-0 in 32 minutes, the shortest ever Slam final in the history of tennis.

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In 1989, Graf lost in the final against Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in three sets, which was her second and final defeat of the 1989 season. The German capped off the year with a mind-boggling win-loss record of 86-2.

#3 Chris Evert: 20 years and 5 months

Chris Evert holds her 18th and final singles Slam title of her career at the 1989 French Open
Chris Evert holds her 18th and final singles Slam title of her career at the 1989 French Open

Former World No. 1 Chris Evert rose to prominence in 1974, when she completed the Channel Slam (Roland Garros + Wimbledon) in the singles event. At the age of 19, Evert was the top seed at the 1974 French Open. She did not drop a set in the entire tournament, winning the final 6-1, 6-2 against Olga Morozova. She finished the 1974 season with a win-loss record of 100-7 and as the No. 1 player.

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In 1975, Evert was the first ever World No. 1 player in the newly introduced computerized ranking system. As the top seed and defending champion, she defeated Navratilova in the 1975 French Open final to win the third of her 18 Major singles titles.

#4 Iga Swiatek: 21 years and 4 days

Iga Swiatek holding the Roland Garros trophy in front of the Eifel Tower
Iga Swiatek holding the Roland Garros trophy in front of the Eifel Tower

In 2020, the Paris Major was pushed to September due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Until that point, Iga Swiatek had not won a WTA title. Unseeded at Roland Garros, she produced one of the most dominant runs to clinch her maiden Slam.

The Pole recorded wins against previous year's runner-up Marketa Vondrousova, former World No. 1 Simona Halep and sixth seed Sofia Kenin to win her first Major and maiden WTA title. She dropped only 28 games in the entire tournament, which was the lowest since Graf's 20 in 1988.

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Swiatek was a heavy favorite for the Paris Major this year. She dropped only one set in the entire tournament, defeating Coco Gauff in straight sets in the final to win her second Slam.

In the process, she equaled the tally for the longest win streak in the 21st century (35 with Venus Williams in 2000) and could break it in the upcoming grass season. She is scheduled to play in Berlin before heading to Wimbledon.

#5 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario: 22 years and 5 months

Arantxa Sanchez Vicario - 1994 Roland Garros Champion
Arantxa Sanchez Vicario - 1994 Roland Garros Champion

Arantxa Sanchez Vicario was seeded seventh when she entered the 1989 French Open as a 17-year-old. The Spaniard made her way to the final, dropping only two sets. She faced two-time defending champion Steffi Graf, who had lost only one match in the season.

Graf was serving for the championship at 5-3, but Sanchez Vicario broke and dropped only three points over the rest of the match as she claimed the title.

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For the next few years, with the exception of 1991, Sanchez Vicario was a consistent feature in the semifinals of the French Open. In 1994, as the second seed, she made it to the final at Roland Garros for the third time. Her opponent this time was 12th seed Mary Pierce, who made the final after defeating Steffi Graf.

Sanchez Vicario won the final in straight sets to lift the second of her four singles Slam titles.


Edited by Keshav Gopalan

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