There’s still nothing like appointment television, even if it means sitting in a Plateau apartment with a laptop on a Saturday evening. All across Canada, sports fans cleared their calendars for 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu’s run to the 2019 US Open championship match. It took just over two hours on the afternoon of Sept. 7 before the Mississauga-born tennis phenom raised her hands in victory, making history and creating one of Canadian sports’ greatest moments.
In the thrilling two-set (6–3, 7–5) victory, Andreescu defeated 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams. The two battled it out in a close match, with surges of adrenaline coming through for both. Andreescu’s shouts of “come on” pierced through a raucous pro-Williams crowd after big shots. When that final stroke came through for Andreescu, it was a powerful forehand in the open court ending Williams’ rally from down 5–1.
Although Andreescu and Williams’s history is short, it’s filled with significant matches and mutual respect. At the Rogers Cup in Toronto in August, an injured Williams retired during the championship match down three games to one, giving Andreescu a title on home soil.
When the two met again one month later, both healthy and ready, the fans got the match they wanted. It ended with Andreescu winning the first major singles title in Canadian tennis history. (Genie Bouchard and Milos Raonic had previously come up short in finals matches at Wimbledon.)
“If anyone could win this tournament outside of Venus, I’m happy it’s Bianca,” Williams told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi when she accepted her finalist’s trophy. Williams had praised Andreescu’s poise and maturity after the Rogers Cup.
While Williams has been on the finals stage many times, Andreescu took home the title in just her first appearance in a major final.
“I’ve never received this much [money],” Andreescu said when handed the prize money cheque of $1 million. She remained calm and composed, even in the most emotional moments of the biggest match of her career so far, and it literally paid off.
Andreescu’s complete game forced Williams to dig deep and play from behind for most of the match. The Canadian teenager put one of the best in tennis history on her heels, and it was obvious: Williams struggled to make shots with her backhand for much of the match. Even Williams’s strongest weapon—her serve—fell short, and she double-faulted eight times.
Ultimately, with the massive victory, superstardom arrived for Andreescu. Even if it feels as if this has come early, it certainly has not. Ranked 152nd in the world at the beginning of the calendar year, Andreescu moved to the fifth spot in the World Tennis Association rankings with her championship title. While her rise is astounding, it is well-earned. Andreescu talks often about visualizing such peaks and how her mind prepares her for these moments.
“The mind is an incredible tool,” Andreescu told Joe Wolfond of The Score in August. “You basically can create your own reality with your mind.”
And this reality is hers: Andreescu is a major champion, and Canadian tennis gets its biggest moment yet. There’s more to come, though. When asked about the potential for fame and whether she is okay with being recognized on the street, Andreescu contemplated her new reality.
“My goals have just been to win as many Grand Slams as possible, become number one in the world, but the idea of fame never really crossed my mind,” Andreescu told reporters in the post-match press conference. “I’m not complaining, though.”
Later, Andreescu and her coach Sylvain Bruneau posed for photos with their new trophies. Bruneau joked that this felt new for him, and Andreescu smiled.
“Get used to it,” Andreescu said.