TORONTO, Canada - US Open champion Bianca Andreescu made a triumphant return home after becoming the first from her country to win a major singles title, and spoke about taking her newfound fame in stride in a press conference hosted by Tennis Canada.
"One of my goals was to be an inspiration for many people," she said on Wednesday afternoon. "I think I’m starting to do that, which means a lot to me. If I step on the court and I show a good example, I think it can drive a lot of people to maybe even pick up a racquet.
"I’ve started getting messages from people saying that they’ve never watched tennis before, but now they will, which is pretty cool. I’ve gotten some where they actually started playing tennis because of me. That’s amazing, and I’m really humbled."
The teenager put on a memorable display in her first Grand Slam final, halting 23-time major champion Serena Williams' big for an all-time record tying 24th title, which would have been her seventh alone in New York.
Andreescu first outlasted an injured Williams at home in the Rogers Cup final, and shared a memorable conversation that continued after they faced off on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"We had a really nice moment in the locker room. She actually came up to me after the match, which I really appreciate. She said some really nice things, that I’m going to be a very good tennis player, and a bunch of other things. I would rather keep them private, and I’m sure she’d appreciate that as well. Above all, she’s such a kind person and hopefully we can see much more of her."
The tennis world, but particularly the Canadian public, is eager to see Andreescu, who has admittedly gotten little sleep since hoisting the trophy on Saturday, back on court as well. The 19-year-old aims to qualify for the Shieseido WTA Finals Shenzhen and make her debut in the Top 3 on the WTA rankings, and believes the outside attention - which has already generated a popular #SheTheNorth hashtag - does little more than propel her meteoric rise even higher.
"There’s always going to be external pressure; I’m sure Canada wants me to do very well, but most importantly, I want to do well. That pressure honestly helps me. I got a chance to speak to Billie Jean King, and we were talking about her quote, ‘Pressure is a privilege’ and I really think it is. It motivates me. I think I’m a perfectionist, so if I step on the court, and do my best, that’s all that matters to me."
The most crucial support, she says, comes from her parents, who have enjoyed their own rise to fame in the last two weeks - especially mother Marie, whose calm expressions and striking fashions have helped her and family dog Coco quickly go viral.
"I think she has her own Buzzfeed post; I think that deserves a round of applause. All the tweets were really funny.
"It’s just so nice to have amazing parents like them because they still treat me like me. They’ve been handling everything super well and help me stay grounded. I’m grateful for that."
Andreescu has also been grateful to enjoy some of the best New York has to offer, including a whirlwind media tour that took her on the sets of Good Morning America, TODAY, Live! With Kelly and Ryan, and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, where she teasingly called out fellow Canadian superstar Drake for not congratulating her on social media.
"Drake messaged me by the way," she said as the press conference came to a close. "Let me read it. I’m actually having a conversation with him; this is unreal.
"He’s like, ‘Here I am :) Congrats and we’re all so proud of you. I’ve been liking every post with you in it lol I thought you’d see.’ I didn’t because I was barely on social media, just posting things. That’s cool, and I don’t even know what to reply to that. It’s going to take me a while.
"He has the seen message but don’t worry I’m going to answer. I’m not going to r-bomb him," she added, promising not to leave him on read.