Virtually out of nowhere, Canada has a new sports sensation.
Only a few people outside of her Romanian family and close friends had heard of tennis player Bianca Andreescu before she made it to the final of the Auckland Open in New Zealand in January, showing up on the sports world’s radar with wins over Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki along the way. Two months later, the 18-year-old from Mississauga was thrust into a mini spotlight in the world of pro tennis and given a berth in the main draw at the BNP Paribas championship in the Palm Springs community of Indian Wells, the closest thing to a major that’s not a major as there is in professional tennis.
It was a true Cinderella story. Win after win after win put her into the final against the seventh-seeded and world No. 4 Angelique Kerber of Germany, a three-time Grand-Slam winner and overwhelming favourite. But the clock didn’t strike midnight before Andreescu scored a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win over Kerber, who has $28.1 million in career earnings, for the first Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) victory ever by a Canadian. She wore the proverbial gown right into the post-match press conference, where she caused a bit of a scene by asking if she could use “the F word” before being told no, of course not, and proceeding to tell the world that it was “crazy,” but she was the “effing champion of Indian Wells.”
OK, so the prudes in the crowd may not like her language, but she was giddy and giggly and shocked and $1.35 million richer. (Her career earnings prior to her victory were $350,000.) Andersen said her goal at the start of 2019 was to make enough money to enable her parents to travel with her.
Mission accomplished. In spades — not to mention in lobs and aces and terrific winning smashes.
Less than six months ago, Andrescu was ranked 243rd in the world. Making the final in Auckland and winning at Indian Wells has led to a lofty world ranking of 24th. She is one of a strong group of Canadians, including Denis Shapovalov, Félix Auger-Aliassime, Vasek Pospisil and Eugenie Bouchard who are turning Canada into a world minipower in the sport.
Bouchard was the fresh face in tennis two years ago, but has faded back into the pack. Here’s hoping Andreescu follows a different, more successful path. Maybe all the way to No. 1.
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- Norman Chad of the Washington Post, on Twitter: “BREAKING — Duke No. 1 overall seed in NCAA Tournament. Zion Williamson pledges to stay enrolled in school through April 8.”
- Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg: “In the NCAA tournament, 14th seed Yale lost to third seed LSU 79-74. After the game, LSU celebrated with barbecue while Yale went to their rooms and conjugated Latin verbs.”
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- Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Pioneerof the Nile, the 13-year-old sire of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, died unexpectedly at WinStar Farm right after performing his breeding duties. How quickly? The poor stallion was barely halfway through his cigarette.”
- Comedy writer Brad Dickson, via Twitter, on the ever-widening college-admissions scandal: “It’s now alleged that Lori Loughlin and her husband bribed an official $250,000 to get their not-so-bright dog into obedience school.”
- Patti Dawn Swansson in the River City Renegade, on recent media outbursts by Oilers’ CEO Bob Nicholson and Senators’ owner Eugene Melnyk: “Time was when Humpty Harold Ballard provided the National Hockey League with its soundtrack for stupid. Now we get it in surround sound.”
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