Tennis star Bianca Andreescu wants to be ‘an inspiration to people’

Bianca Andreescu says life has changed in the few days since she became Canada’s first Grand Slam singles tennis champion.

“I think it’s a little bit different,” the 19-year-old said, laughing, while addressing reporters in Toronto on Wednesday after defeating 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in the U.S. Open women’s final on Saturday in New York.

“I’m getting more recognized wherever I go. The sport is getting more attention and one of my goals is to be an inspiration to people.

“I got messages from people who said they haven’t paid attention to tennis but will now and others said they have started to play because of me and that’s amazing. I’m really humbled.”

The native of Mississauga, Ont., 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, her coach Sylvain Bruneau said Tuesday.

The only Canadian to win three WTA events also hopes to become the No. 1-ranked women’s player in the world, win “as many Grand Slams as possible” and qualify for the season-ending WTA Finals, Oct. 27-Nov. 3 in Shenzhen, China.

Olympics ‘a special event’

Looking forward, the world No. 5 said she has thought about playing at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and would welcome the opportunity to be part of a team.

“It’s a very special event, different than any tournament on the [WTA] Tour,” Andreescu, dressed all in black — from a light Nike jacket, top, mini skirt and nail polish — told reporters at the Aviva Centre on the campus of York University.

“Wow,” is the word Andreescu used to describe her performance on Saturday that she watched for the first time the next evening.

“I usually don’t like to watch myself play,” she added, noting Saturday’s historic victory was an exception. “Hopefully soon it can sink in.”

A self-proclaimed perfectionist, Andreescu said she was “motivated” by the pressure of playing in a Grand Slam final before a record crowd of 26,191 at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Talking with Drake ‘unreal’

“Pressure is a privilege,” said Andreescu. “If I step on the court and do my best that I have that day, that’s all that matters to me.”

Andreescu concluded her 30-minute news conference by informing reporters that she has connected with Canadian rapper Drake after saying she got no messages from the Toronto Raptors global ambassador on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Monday.

Andreescu read a message from Drake at the end of her press conference and said the Canadian rapper said, “I’ve been liking every post with you in it. LOL. I thought you’d see.”

Andreescu then laughed and said she didn’t, saying she barely has had time to go on social media. She called having a conversation with Drake “unreal.”

A banner with Andreescu’s picture and the words “Canada’s U.S. Open champion” was placed above the Tennis Canada sign at the Aviva Centre.

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