In Roman mythology, the goddess Venus simply appeared one day fully formed, with no infancy or childhood, a breathtaking vision of a young woman rising from the sea. On Saturday, 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu arrived at the very top level of tennis by claiming her maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open, defeating legend Serena Williams 6-3, 7-5 in a tense, hard-hitting affair.
This time last year, Andreescu (pronounced AWN-DRESS-KOO, no double “e”) was ranked outside the Top 200, and spent all of 2018 playing in lower-tier ITF tournaments peppered with unsuccessful forays into Grand Slam qualifying rounds.
However, in 2019, Andreescu seemed to arrive a fully-formed competitor, coming through qualifying at the WTA-level tournament in Auckland, New Zealand to make the final, defeating the likes of Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams along the way. A couple of months later, she was hoisting her first WTA title in Indian Wells, taking out Qiang Wang, Garbine Mugurza, Elina Svitolina, and Angelique Kerber in succession. Injuries kept her off the court for much of the first half of the year, but Andreescu re-emerged on the hard courts of Toronto in August to claim her second major title with a win over Serena Williams, who retired hurt in the final.
That set the scene for Saturday afternoon’s repeat battle between two of the fiercest competitors on the tour. Serena had played some of the best tennis of her comeback in reaching the final, dropping just five total games in her quarterfinal and semifinal matches, with the added motivation of possibly securing a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title. For her part, Andreescu came into the championship match carrying an excellent 33-4 record, including an astonishing 7-0 against Top 10 players.
In the end, it would be the young Canadian who brought her A-game. Breaking Serena in her opening service game, “Bibi” as she’s known to friends and family, played some incredibly composed tennis, serving out of this world and showing off the game’s best forehand to take a 6-3, 5-1 lead over a dispirited Serena. Down match point, Serena suddenly seemed to remember how to tennis again, bringing the match level to 5-all. But the Canadian would not be denied. A forehand return winner sealed the match, giving Andreescu the title, Canada’s first-ever Grand Slam champion in singles, and a career-high World No. 5 spot when the rankings come out on Monday.
This US Open will be remembered for some amazing story lines – early-career prodigies making waves (Belinda Bencic, Taylor Townsend, Kristie Ahn), a touching display of sportsmanship from Naomi Osaka, and Qiang Wang’s inspired run to the quarterfinals, to name a few. But ultimately, it’ll be remembered as where a fearless teen who forgot how to lose captured her first (of likely many) Grand Slam titles.
See Bianca Andreescu in action live at the Wuhan Open, part of a packed field which includes 9 of the world’s Top 10, and 18 of the world’s Top 20 when play begins on September 22, 2019.