TORONTO — Drake texted but she isn’t sure what to write back. Toronto Mayor John Tory wants to have a parade and she thinks "that would be really cool" but she has to check her schedule. And she watched a replay of what she accomplished on Saturday and thought: "Wow."
Yes, the last few days have been a whirlwind for Bianca Andreescu, the 19-year-old history-maker from Mississauga, Ont., owner of Canada’s first-ever singles Grand Slam title.
And the champ is home, at last, four days after her incredible U.S. Open victory, now on a media tour in the Greater Toronto Area, answering every question under the sun. (She was jamming to "Hot Girl Summer" by Megan Thee Stallion on her way into Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday and she’d get Jennifer Lawrence to play her in a movie, in case you were wondering.)
On Wednesday, Andreescu strode into a very full interview room at the Aviva Centre, dressed all in Nike — a black Nike Air dress and jacket, with a red Nike purse around her waist. She sat down in front of a red banner that featured her hashtag: #SheTheNorth, and to her right was a photo of her kissing that U.S. Open trophy, eyes closed, just after she beat Serena Williams in straight sets in front of more than 23,000 people in New York who wanted a different ending.
There’s a different photo of Andreescu featured on the giant banner hanging outside the entrance to the Aviva Centre, where she’s smiling and holding that trophy with the words "Canada’s U.S. Open Champion!"
Yes, life sure is different for Andreescu since the last time she was home. Her mother, Maria — wearer of big sunglasses, the woman who calmly claps and shows no facial expression after her daughter wins the opening set of the U.S. Open Final — is now famous. So is Coco, who slept through the final on Saturday like a good dog.
These are all things Andreescu could see from afar (New York), over social media. But when she went to Yorkdale Mall on Tuesday, her first stop since returning from New York on a private jet (no security to deal with, no customs to be cleared!), she noticed she was getting noticed more than usual. She still can’t believe she was on Jimmy Fallon’s show. "I didn’t think he was a real person before meeting him," she said. Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie wants to give her the keys to the city. "I was not expecting any of this," Andreescu said, eyebrows raised, a big smile on her face. "But I could get used to it."
But here’s what she promises she won’t do: Andreescu won’t let it get to her. She won’t let it alter her focus. Because although she has been indulging the last few days — cake was definitely part of her diet — and although she’s more than $3 million richer and with oodles of endorsement deals still to come, Andreescu says the celebration of her latest feat will be short-lived while she prepares to try to cause another. She’ll catch up with friends, "but it’s time to move on to the next after today," she said. "I’m so focused on what is to come."
Isn’t that exactly what you want a champion to say? Andreescu hit all the right notes on Wednesday, even if she might be feeling a little less than energetic since she’s been having trouble keeping her eyes shut since Saturday, running on adrenaline ever since.
She says there’s always room for improvement: Mentally, physically, in the shot-making department. Asked whether she’ll feel more pressure to perform now that she won a Grand Slam, Andreescu’s upper lip shot up and she said: "Not at all." She likes that pressure, folks. She mentioned Billie Jean King’s quote: "Pressure is a privilege."
"And I really think it is because it motivates me," Andreescu said. "And I think I’m a perfectionist, so if I step on the court and I do my best with what I have that day I think that’s all that matters to me."
Right after the big match on Saturday, Andreescu got some nice words of encouragement from Williams, though she wouldn’t share everything the 23-time Grand Slam champion said. "She actually came up to me after the match, which I really appreciate," Andreescu said. "She says I’m going to be a very good tennis player."
Well, Andreescu is already a very good tennis player. A great tennis player. She’s No. 5 in the world, for Pete’s sake. And as her former coach, Andre Labelle, pointed out, "All the girls now have to prepare to play her, because she plays differently." The hallmarks of Andreescu’s game are power and variety, including slices and drop shots and varying heights and speeds. "The other girls are going to have to improve their competencies on the court, not just stay on the baseline," Labelle said. "The women’s game is changing."
So, too, is the game in Canada: It’s growing, and in large part thanks to the "Bianca Effect," which has been noted by its author. Andreescu has been getting messages galore, from people who say they’re taking up the game for the first time because of her, from people who say they never watched tennis before, but they do now, because of her. Andreescu is loving those messages, and she’s embracing her role model status. She’s vocal in encouraging kids to strive for their own goals. Like her mother always told her: "Dream big to get big."
Now that Andreescu has a first singles Grand Slam under her belt (and Canada’s), the belief is only growing, the dreams only getting bigger.
"Now I actually believe that I can do more for this sport, after all of this success. So I’m just going to keep striving, and hopefully win many more Grand Slams from here on," she said. "I think that’s what really gets me going, is just to create history and win as many Grand Slams as possible, become No. 1 in the world."
But before all that, Andreescu has a few things to take care of. She has to hang out with her friends and get a good night’s sleep in her own bed. She has to spend a little more time with that trophy. And she has to figure out what to write back to Drake, and see when she might have time for that parade.