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TENNIS

Be grateful and stay humble, Bianca Andreescu tells young players

Bianca Andreescu of Canada during the eighth day of the US Open tennis championships in Flushing Meadows, New York, US, on 6 September 2021. (Photo: EPA-EFE / JASON SZENES)

Canadian tennis player Bianca Andreescu says young players who achieve success should remain grateful and humble because you never know what lies ahead, a fact the often injured 2019 US Open champion is all too familiar with.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

Bianca Andreescu announced herself as a force in the game when, at 19 years old, she defeated Serena Williams in the final at Flushing Meadows. Soon after that triumph, she faced a number of injury setbacks, but has since put together a solid season, highlighted by a run to the fourth round in New York last month.

“Always remain grateful, even if you’re having huge success, because it can all be taken away from you in a split second,” Andreescu told reporters ahead of the start of the tournament in Indian Wells, which she also won in 2019.

“For me, it was being injured right after [winning the US Open]. That was really hard for me. I felt like I didn’t savour it as much. That’s one thing that I learned now that I wish I did back then.”

Fellow Canadian Eugenie Bouchard also burst on to the scene at a young age. She was 20 when she reached the final of the Wimbledon Championships in 2014.

Before Bouchard knew it, she was on magazine covers, reputed brands were falling at her feet and she had amassed a global following of millions.

Not long after, though, a combination of factors – including the attention surrounding her, injuries and loss of form – saw tennis’s next “it girl” plummet down the world rankings and her influence wane.

Since 2016, the now 27-year-old Bouchard has failed to reach beyond the third round of any Grand Slam.

Coco Gauff of the US during her match against Sloane Stephens of the US at the US Open tennis championships on 1 September 2021. (Photo: EPA-EFE / JASON SZENES)
Emma Raducanu of Great Britain celebrates after defeating Lelyah Fernandez of Canada to win the women’s final match of the US Open tennis championships on 11 September 2021. (Photo: EPA-EFE / JOHN G MABANGLO)
Maria Sakkari of Greece at the US Open tennis championships on 6 September 2021. (Photo: EPA-EFE / JASON SZENES)

Grand rising  

Over the past year or so, women’s tennis has seen a flock of rising young stars, including 18-year-old US Open champion Emma Raducanu and fellow teenagers Leylah Fernandez and Coco Gauff.

Andreescu advised them that staying grounded is key.

“Don’t let it go too much to your head,” she said. “Stay confident, obviously, but don’t become stuck-up. Stay humble, remain grateful and continue to work hard because as everyone says, it’s easy to get to the top. But staying at the top, that’s the hardest part.”

Andreescu said she had needed to learn to stop dwelling on her own past successes to turn the page.

“The main thing this year for me was to stop looking in the past because that’s what I was doing a lot and that’s what was ruining me. I would always say, ‘Oh I want to play like I did back in 2019. Why am I not playing like I used to?’,” she said.

“But I had to switch that mindset and start focusing on the present moment, because the past is the past.” Reuters/DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for R25 at Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. For your nearest stockist, please click here.

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