After studying at the Neue Münchner Schauspielschule (Munich acting school) and doing an internship at the Munich Kammerspiele, Sawatzky played in theaters in Stuttgart, Wilhelmshaven and Munich from 1988 to 1992. Her first movie role was in Faust – der Film in 1988, directed by Dieter Dorn. In 1997, she became known to a broader audience through the movie Die Apothekerin in which she played Alma Siebert. She made her breakthrough as one of the best known German actresses with her role as Chief Inspector Charlotte Sänger in the Tatort series from 2002 to 2010.
Sawatzki is the daughter of a nurse and a Journalist. She has lived with actor Christian Berkel since 1997. The couple has two sons and live in Berlin.
Moreover, she acted in successful movies such as Bandits, Late Show, Leo und Claire and Das Experiment. She appeared in several TV series and TV movies such as Der König von St. Pauli ("The King of St. Pauli") and Die Manns, both praised by critics. She posed for a spread in Playboy magazine in 2003.
Sawatzki read for audio books as, for Example, for the series TV-Kommissare lesen Krimis the story Die Maus in der Ecke and the novel Glennkill. In 2007, Sawatzki was godmother of the Deutscher Kinderpreis (German Children's Award).