STUTTGART, Germany -- Bianca Andreescu returns to the court this week for the first time this season, which is encouraging news considering it wasn’t long ago she was considering her future in tennis.
"I'm being really honest here, but I actually wanted to quit the sport," Andreescu told WTA Insider this week in Stuttgart. "It was really bad. I am privileged in a way for having this opportunity and doing all of this. Now I'm very grateful, more than ever. So I don't want people to think, 'Oh you're a little baby, just suck it up.' But it was an accumulation of two-and-a-half years. A lot had happened and I just didn't want to deal with anything anymore.
"So I realized that I really do love the sport and I do want to continue, but not just to win Grand Slams, or to do this and that. I want to do something bigger in the sport and I want to help contribute to a better world as well. I realize that tennis is my way toward that."
This week, the 2019 US Open champion is set to play the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, her first tournament of the 2022 season. She opted to delay the start of her season to address mental health concerns and, after a seven-week pre-season training block, says she's returning to competition with a renewed appreciation for the game.
Bianca Andreescu @PorscheTennis: "I'm very excited to play again. The last couple of months have been quite difficult but, as cliche as it sounds, I feel like I found myself. I really developed a stronger passion for this game and I realized that I truly love this sport." pic.twitter.com/HetkezZJsY— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) April 18, 2022
"I never really felt like I was completely ready [to come back]," Andreescu told reporters at Media Day in Stuttgart. "I'm not sure that anyone is for sure ready for something.
"But I just felt like my time off was enough. I kind of got tired and bored of not challenging myself on the court. I really missed that fire that I had competing and pushing myself. So I think that was when I thought it would be good to start playing again."
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Andreescu spent her break disconnecting from tennis and living the life of a normal 21-year-old. Between spending time with her family and friends and crushing sessions of Call of Duty or NBA 2K22 online, Andreescu went on a retreat to Costa Rica and discovered new tools to keep herself mentally centered.
"Just having that opportunity really helped me get away from the tennis world," Andreescu said. "I was in my own bubble, just complete meditation, yoga, all that hippie stuff, which I love.
"I'm taking a lot of what I learned there and I'm bringing it on tour with me because I remember how good I felt on that retreat. So if I can grab some stuff and bring it on tour it will really help me sustain my mental health."
Andreescu sat down with WTA Insider in Stuttgart to discuss her decision to hit pause and the new perspective it brought to her career:
WTA Insider: You've had to take extended breaks from the game in the past, but those were due to injuries. This time it was a choice. Does that make any difference?
Andreescu: Yes, I think it does. Even when I didn't play in 2020, that was kind of a decision I couldn't make, either. It was forced a little bit. So this is definitely the first time I did make the decision. But I was thinking about it two-three months prior to me actually taking a break, right after the US Open.
It definitely wasn't an easy decision, but I told myself, 'Look, I've been feeling a certain way for a while now. A month off isn't going to cut it.' I spoke to a couple of people that were close to me about it and some professionals as well. It was a collective decision, but at the end of the day, it was my final decision, obviously. But I think it really helped a lot. It really did.
WTA Insider: In your press conference you said you weren't focusing as much on results right now. Do you think you're coming back as a more patient person?
Andreescu: I think I am patient because I felt like before, I felt so much pressure - not coming from other people, even though that's inevitable - but the pressure I put on myself, it was constant stress on me. I felt like I had to continue putting that pressure on so that I could continue to push myself and push myself.
But the whole point of me taking that break was realizing that it couldn't be like that. I kind of made a habit out of it and it was very unhealthy. I identified myself too much with my results. If I lost, I hated myself. If I won, I loved myself. Or even if I did win, sometimes I was still hard on myself because I didn't like one game in the match.
I was very critical and it was very unhealthy. People were telling me this and this and this, and I was absorbing it to the most of my capabilities at the time, but I felt like I was just so closed off from everything. I was in my own world. I did feel like I was absorbing what they were telling me, but at the same time, I really wasn't. That wasn't fair to my team, my family, or my friends at all. So I was like, 'Yo, something needs to change because if I continue like this, my career is going to go down the drain.'
WTA Insider: You mentioned wanting to take some of the lessons you learned on your Costa Rica trip and apply them to your tennis world. What's more helpful to you: Keeping your worlds separate or merging them?
Andreescu: I think it really depends on the situation, but for instance, something like that is really important for me to merge into my professional career because I did learn a lot. It is personal, but it's also professional in a way because waking up every morning, I don't only want to do the same routines in a tournament. I want to have it throughout my whole entire life.
It's kind of like meditation. I don't only use all these techniques for my career, I use it for everything. So I think it really depends.
WTA Insider: Is it easy for you to keep routines?
Andreescu: I'm definitely not a fan of keeping routines that much, but for certain things, I think it is important to keep a routine. I've experimented with a lot of that kind of stuff over the years. What's a good time for me to go to bed? What's a good time for me to wake up in the morning? Stuff like that I change up still.
But for instance, I found out that I work better in the mornings than in the evenings throughout the past couple of months. I have more energy in the morning. So I try to schedule my practices in the mornings. But obviously, sometimes you have to change it up because you'll play a night match, so you kind of have to get used to the lights.
But it's not easy to keep routines. Even meditating every morning is not always easy, but I think what will really make me successful in the future is finding the discipline to do all these things. I think that's just a muscle that people have to grow because not everyone likes routines.