NEW YORK, NY, USA - Bianca Andreescu's triumphant night was hardly half over when she walked up the stairs and into the almost-empty Player Lounge, ready to face another series of questions from reporters eager to get a deeper insight from the US Open champion.
As the first panel of print writers dissolved into a panel of web editors, Andreescu's bright smile had yet to dim, and a mix of wide-eyed wonder and self-deprecating humor were both on display throughout the 10-minute exchange.
"I was so clueless," she laughed, recalling how she couldn't decide which way to hold the trophy. "There were two sides: the side with the names, and then the side with something else. I just wanted to make sure so I didn’t look like an idiot."
An hour removed from her post-match press conference - and not much longer from when she became the first from Canada to capture a Grand Slam singles title - the teenager was still very much up in the clouds. Cloud 9, to be exact.
"I don’t think I’ve lost a match since March, so my confidence is sky-rocketing right now," she said when asked if she felt invincible in light of her 13-match winning streak. "I just don’t want to take anything for granted because there’s going to be weeks where you’re going to lose.
"Hopefully, I can keep the momentum going."
Set to crack the Top 5 on the WTA rankings, the 19-year-old, who already won important titles at the BNP Paribas Open and Rogers Cup, is getting used to being a big-time champion in her inimitable way.
"I think it’s a monumental leap. After Indian Wells, it took a couple weeks to sink in. After Toronto, it took a couple days. Hopefully by tomorrow, I can finally realize that it actually happened. Right now feels like, ‘What the hell is happening?’"
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 8, 2019
Andreescu indeed navigated a disorienting experience in Saturday's final, playing on Arthur Ashe Stadium - already one of the loudest courts in the world - on the receiving end of a pro-American crowd aiming to pull 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams into tying Margaret Court's all-time record.
"I couldn’t hear myself think at that point. I was just in awe of how loud the US Open crowd can get. It was crazy but I was glad to witness it because that’s what makes this tournament so special. At that point, you can only focus on what you can control, and that was my attitude towards it. I kept my composure, which is why I think I dealt with that whole scenario really well."
Critical to that composure was the support she did feel from Canadian fans, who appeared in droves and decked out in #SheTheNorth apparel, a twist on the famed Toronto Raptors catchprase.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) September 7, 2019
"I was definitely in awe when I saw that. Having Canada’s support gives me extra motivation to do better in my matches. Even today, I know the crowd wasn’t for me, but I did hear some Canadians, and I’m truly grateful for that. That support coming from everyone is so incredible."
That support not only helped her survive Serena Williams, but also through the tougher times she faced long before she made her US Open main draw debut, when she couldn't win a match in qualifying a year earlier.
"In my short career, I’ve been through a lot, injury-wise, and those moments weren’t easy for me because I just kept getting injured. At one point, I didn’t have much faith in myself. I have an amazing team around me, including my parents. I think my parents are my biggest inspiration and biggest motivations because they believed in me since Day 1. Without them, I don’t think I could have made it through those periods like I did.
"Going through tough situations is a part of life; it’s not always going to be butterflies and rainbows. I just try to embrace them as much as I could; I tried to learn different things about myself, and how I can get better, both as a player and a person. I really believed good times were ahead because when you believe that, all those tough times are worth it."
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 8, 2019
Moving forward, Andreescu hopes her unique style will continue to click through the upcoming Asian Swing, potentially culminating in a Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen debut.
"When I play my game, I think nobody really likes it, because I play a lot different than other players on tour. I like to change up the rhythm, and I’ve always been like that, so I’ve been improving it. That’s what I’ve been doing this whole year. I think that’s why I’ve been doing really well."
She will also have plenty of reading material on the cross-continental flight, grabbing her phone to list a series of self-help books, including Code of the Extroardinary Mind, a title she'd initially struggled to remember.
"That's the one!" she exclaimed, setting her yellow-cased iPhone down before getting up for another interview.
And so the long night continued for Andreescu, one the US Open champion won't soon forget.