Earlier this month I, like millions of Canadians, developed a new interest in tennis. The reason of course is because of a young lady by the name of Bianca Andreescu.
I enjoy spectator sports, but tennis has never been at the top of “must watch” list. That is, until Andreescu piqued my interest. How is it possible for a nineteen-year-old to possess the confidence and talent demonstrated by Bianca Andreescu? The focus and mental strength she possesses is that of one far beyond her years.
The first time I really noticed her was when I saw a clip of her being told that her game against Serena Williams would not go ahead because Serena was forced to retire due to an injury. Without hesitation, Andreescu walked over to Serena, hugged her and, crouching in front of her, Andreescu had Serena laughing and wiping away her tears. I knew then that this girl was special. Even more, I thought what a great ambassador she is for Canada and that she embodied how we want Canadians to be seen by the world as being “nice”.
My impression of her continued to grow even more the first time I saw her being interviewed. She was so engaged and enthusiastic and well yes, nice. She appeared to be so excited and yet at the same time didn’t seem to be letting any of this world attention go to her head. She answered the interviewer with a huge smile on her face, looking him in the eye, with unassuming honesty. This was another moment in which she made us all proud to be Canadian.
This teenaged daughter of immigrants embodies all that we value as Canadians – she is unassuming, polite, and enthusiastic about her sport and her life. Sometimes it is hard to believe she is only nineteen. And, as if we didn’t idolize her enough already, she went and apologized to American fans after winning the U.S Open championship over their favorite, Serena Williams. What an amazingly Canadian thing to do.
I love Andreescu’s enthusiasm and kindness. What a great leader and mentor for her generation. (I wonder how many little girls are begging their parents to let them take tennis lessons now?). Although she possesses the grace of one much older, we are reminded of her youth by her canary yellow cell case and her choice of words, mostly the often-repeated “cool”. All of which reminds us that she has a long professional future ahead of her, but this moment on all of Canada is walking and dreaming with her. I have no doubt that she will continue to make us proud.