French Open: Grand Slam great Billie Jean praises finalist Swiatek, Gauff for their fighting spirits

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Paris: Grand Slam great Billie Jean King showered praises on the finalists of the women’s singles of French Open 2022, Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff, for advocating the change in the society. 

Both women’s finalists have used their respective platforms extensively to advocate for change – Swiatek as a vocal supporter of ending the conflict in Ukraine and Gauff in aid of Black Lives Matter and gun law reform in the US. Billie Jean King received the Legion d’Honneur from French President Emmanuel Macron at Elysee Palace on Friday in honour of her fight for women’s sport, gender equality, and the rights of LGBTQ people in sport.

“Everything is relationships. I got to see (former rival) Francoise Durr this year, I got to see people I really care about and love. That’s everything. It’s really about the relationships, not how many titles you have won,” said Billie Jean King as stated by Roland Garros’ official website.

King was front and centre for the women’s singles decider on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Saturday and could not have been prouder of the two finalists, Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff. World number one Swiatek swept 18-year-old Coco Gauff aside to lift the French Open 2022 for a second time on Saturday, winning 6-1 6-3 to extend her remarkable run of victories to 35.

“I think they are amazing. I think they are fantastic. I think they both have different personalities, and different games, which I always think is good. Iga, you know, when I saw her win here (in 2020), I wondered how she’s going to hold up. She held up amazing. What’s she up to, 35 straight matches or something?” King said.

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“What makes her interesting is her forehand is so different from her backhand and her serve is getting better. She’s actually quite quick. I wasn’t sure about her, how fast she was, but she is pretty quick. That’s what you want in a champion. She really wants it. But so does Coco Gauff. That’s what you want. You feel they are in it, they want to be the best. They are not going to be satisfied with less. Do I like that? Of course, I like that. I always want every generation, both men and women, to step up, because sports are politics. Politics is a sport. So, anybody who doesn’t think so, I don’t agree with them… Everything is your audience when you go out to play.,” said King.

first published:June 5, 2022, 5:03 p.m.

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