Andreescu: the big talent with a bigger personality
Reem Abulleil meets the teenage US Open winner who is far from shy and retiring
When Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu sat on the armchair across from TV host Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show following her US Open victory last month, her first words were: “It feels so good. I made history in Canada. I am truly blessed.”
The 19-year-old – born in Mississuaga, Ontario to Romanian parents – had just defeated Serena Williams in the final in New York to become Canada’s first Grand Slam singles champion, and the first player born this millennium to lift a major trophy.
Her whirlwind 2019 saw her leap from 152 in the world at the start of the year to her current position of No.4, making her the highest-ranked Canadian woman ever. She did it while only contesting a limited schedule of 10 events due to a shoulder injury she picked up in March.
Andreescu has indeed made history and she’s not one to shy away from announcing it to the universe.
When she stunned the field at Indian Wells in March, upsetting four top-20 opponents en route to her maiden WTA title, the then unseeded 18-year-old Andreescu sat in front of the press and tried to make sense of what she had just done. “I’m the effing champion of Indian Wells,” she beamed.
She wouldn’t lose another match – not including injury retirements or withdrawals – until October.
After a three-week victory lap post-US Open, Andreescu returned to the courts at the China Open in Beijing and marched towards the quarter-finals where her 17-match winning streak was halted by Naomi Osaka in a high-quality, tight three-setter.
“I was pretty upset because it was very close, it could have gone either way, and I definitely did not miss the feeling of losing,” Andreescu told The
National in Shenzhen, ahead of her debut WTA Finals match against Simona Halep on Monday.
“I think that was kind of an awakening moment. Now I think I’m even more hungry to go out there and win as much as possible. But I was really happy with how my game held up with Naomi because she’s an amazing player.”
If you ask Osaka, she’ll tell you that she’s the one amazed by Andreescu, who has exploded onto the scene, not just by posting big results, but by showcasing her even bigger personality.
“She’s the complete opposite of me. She seems to be able to talk to everyone, which I’m slightly jealous about. That’s the most outstanding thing [about her] off the court,” says the introverted Osaka of Andreescu.
Andreescu oozes confidence, both on and off the court, and it seems the bigger the occasion, the better she performs.
“I really think that I was born to play this sport,” she reveals. “Like even at the beginning of the year when I had all of those wins, I was surprised of course, but at the same time I really thought that my day was going to come one day.”
This year, Andreescu won her first eight matches against top-10 opposition, with her loss to Osaka being the one slip-up tarnishing that inconceivable record.
At the glitzy WTA Finals draw ceremony and gala dinner, Andreescu showed up dressed in a Chinese-inspired outfit. She says she chose that dress to be “more authentic” and chose the yellow/golden colour because it signifies “difference and royalty” in Chinese culture.
Is she as confident as people think she is? “Yes and no,” she says. “Right now, my tennis, I think I am. But before I had this success I don’t think I was. I think it just grew over time. If you’re well-prepared you basically won half the battle.
“People have to realise that you just have to be yourself out there, because everyone else is taken. I know that’s a cheesy quote, but it’s true.
“I really believe that you can accomplish anything, doesn’t matter how old you are, and I think I’ve proved that, and many other players proved that as well, like Serena and Fed [Roger Federer] at their age, and also Venus [Williams]. So I think if I just keep bringing that to the table I can keep inspiring many people.”
Bianca Andreescu, pictured at the WTA Finals official gala in China, has enjoyed a whirlwind year in tennis