From teen to tennis queen, Bianca Andreescu basking in the celebration at home
Canadian humbled by attention after historic victory at U.S. Open
She left as a teen for the U.S. Open in New York and is returning as Canada's tennis queen.
Bianca Andreescu arrived at the Aviva Centre in Toronto on Wednesday morning to meet the Canadian media four days after her historic Grand Slam win over Serena Williams on Saturday. Outside the tennis centre, new banners celebrate her U.S. Open victory.
"I've been getting more recognized than usual," the 19-year-old from Mississauga said. "Now that I'm home, I'm going to celebrate with some of my friends."
It's been a whirlwind victory tour for Andreescu. On Sunday, she took her trophy to the top of Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan, taking photos with the big city skyline in the background. As a phalanx of photographers snapped relentlessly, Andreescu looked comfortable soaking it all in.
The tour continued Monday with stops at all the major U.S. network morning shows. That evening, Andreescu was a guest on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
"I still can't believe I was on the show. I didn't think he was a real person until I met him," said Andreescu, a fresh new Tennis Canada backdrop with #SheTheNorth propped behind her.
WATCH | Devin Heroux recaps Andreescu's whirlwind week:
"It's crazy. Like I said, I wasn't expecting any of this. Especially having my own hashtag."
She was asked about having a parade after Toronto mayor John Tory said if she wanted one, she could have one.
"What do you think?" Andreescu said, smiling at Tennis Canada staff. "Yeah why not? That would be really cool. I don't know what my schedule is."
As she got up to leave, Andreescu informed reporters that she has connected with Canadian rapper Drake after telling Fallon on Monday that he was one of the celebrities she hadn't heard from.
WATCH | Andreescu gets her shoutout from Drake:
Andreescu read aloud the message from Drake: "I've been liking every post with you in it. LOL," it said. "I thought you'd see."
Andreescu then laughed and said she'd barely had time to go on social media, calling the conversation with the Toronto music mogul "unreal."
For as much as Andreescu is cherishing these championship moments and attention, she's glad to be home. On Tuesday, she took a private jet back to Toronto. Her phone hasn't stopped ringing. She hasn't had much sleep.
"There's really no place like home," Andreescu said.
She says she's going to take at least the next few days to "chill" and enjoy everything she's accomplished and then get back to tennis.
"It's time to move on to the next thing," Andreescu said. "I'm sure Canada wants me to do very well. Most importantly I want to do very well. That pressure helps me."
Only 10 months out from Tokyo 2020, Andreescu was asked what being at the Games for Canada would mean.
"I've been thinking about playing in the Olympics for a couple of years. I think it's a special event," she said. "You get to be a part of a big team. It's different than any other tournament on the tour."
WATCH | Playing in Olympics would be 'pretty awesome':
Andreescu has incorporated visualization and mediation into her daily practice for the past couple of seasons and credits both for taking her tennis game to a different level.
She says she's already started visualizing a top-three ranking in the world — Andreescu started the year outside of the top 150. She's now ranked fifth.
"I have pretty big expectations for myself. I've accomplished a lot in this past year and I feel I can do even more in this sport. Now I believe I can do more in the sport."
But the No. 1 priority for Andreescu now is staying healthy. She had her own personal physiotherapist with her at the U.S. Open, and injuries have been an issue for her throughout the season, missing almost four months with a sore shoulder.
"It's the most important thing, staying healthy. If I'm healthy I could do even bigger things. It's an athlete's biggest enemy, getting injured. So, the main goal will be to stay healthy."
WATCH | Andreescu knows staying healthy is key:
Andreescu will resume training next week with the goal of playing one tournament during the WTA Tour's Asian swing — with the Beijing Open, Sept. 28-Oct. 6, as the target. She also hopes to qualify for the season-ending WTA Finals, Oct. 27-Nov. 3 in Shenzhen, China. Andreescu is fourth in the standings for the Finals. The top eight qualify for the event.
"It's me striving to do better as a player and as a person. That's what gets me going," she said.
It was exactly one month ago Wednesday that Andreescu defeated Serena Williams to capture the Rogers Cup after Williams retired from the match because of an injury .
Then she became the first Canadian singles tennis player ever to win a major championship. It's been remarkable season with unparalleled success for Andreescu, but she's not letting any of the fame get to her head.
"I'm super grateful to have my parents in my corner. They still treat me like I'm me and not anyone else," she said. "They help me stay grounded. It's really important who you surround yourself with."
Andreescu has talked about wanting to inspire young athletes across Canada — and while it's still early in her career, it's a role she's already comfortable with.
"One of my goals is to be an inspiration to many people. I think I'm starting to do that and it means a lot to me," she said, offering some advice for any young tennis players hoping to follow in her footsteps.
"It's not an easy road, but it's a fun one. If you love playing this sport, go for it. Dream big to get big. It's what I've been doing since I was little."
Unknown to most Canadians a year ago, Andreescu is the nation's face of tennis now. And she seems perfectly comfortable wearing the crown.