Tennis

Teen champion Bianca Andreescu goes from misery to victory in a year

Andreescu, 19, upsets Williams to become youngest Grand Slam winner since 2004

A year ago, Bianca Andreescu was nursing an injury at home and coming to terms with a second successive failed attempt at making the main draw of the US Open.

Yesterday morning (Singapore time), the 19-year-old Canadian defeated Serena Williams 6-3, 7-5 to win her first Grand Slam title.

A tournament official even had to show her which side of the trophy is the front.

Her journey from injury to victory felt all the more rewarding, after last year's qualifying defeat left her feeling particularly low and languishing outside the world's top 200.

She said: "It's definitely a process of life. You're never going to have ups all the time. So I think in those moments, you just have to deal with it the best that you can, which is to just keep fighting for your dreams and just stay as persistent and persevere as much as you can.

"I know in those moments, you feel like you can't. But if you believe that there are good times ahead, then those tough moments are definitely worth it.

"I think it builds you as a character. I think everyone should go through it because it just makes you stronger."

Not only has the teenager become Canada's first Grand Slam singles champion, but she is also the youngest Major winner since Svetlana Kuznetsova won the 2004 US Open, when the Russian was also 19 years old.

In the process, Andreescu stalled Williams' bid for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title, withstanding a rousing second-set recovery from the American to become the seventh first-time Major champion in the past 11 events.

Williams, who turns 38 later this month, was gracious in defeat.

"If anyone else could win the US Open - except for Venus - I'm glad it's Bianca," she said with a laugh, referring to her older sister who had cheered her on from the players' box, which also included Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex.

The American had 33 winners but just as many unforced errors. She hit nine aces but misfired eight double-faults and hit only 44 per cent of her first serves. She dropped 30 of 43 points on her second serve.

Andreescu apologised to the home crowd for beating the home favourite, saying: "I know you guys wanted Serena to win. I'm so sorry."

She added that she had visualised playing against Williams in the final.

"Like I said after I won the Orange Bowl (in 2015), a couple months after, I really believed that I could be at this stage.

"Since then, honestly I've been visualising it almost every single day. For it to become a reality is just so crazy. I guess these visualisations really, really work."

Andreescu will break into the top five today after her remarkable breakthrough run at Flushing Meadows, where she scooped a winner's cheque for an eye-watering US$3.85 million (S$6.5m).

Having started the year with just US$215,888 in career earnings, she has taken that amount to over US$6 million. - AFP

Tennis