Bianca Andreescu always dreamed of playing Serena Williams and on Sunday afternoon at Aviva Centre, her dreams will finally be coming true.
On Saturday, the 19-year-old Canadian won a thrilling 6-4, 7-6(5) victory over Sofia Kenin of the United States to punch her ticket to the Rogers Cup finals. The moment sent Andreescu into an eruption of emotion and sent the packed Aviva Centre into an outburst of applause.
“I’ve always wanted to play with [Serena],” said Andreescu near tears right after her semi-final win. “I’m beyond excited and beyond grateful right now.”
Williams victory over Marie Bouzková Saturday night has set up a story book, best case scenario finals match up Canadian tennis fans could have only dreamt of a few years ago.
More than getting the opportunity to go head to head against the 23-time grand slam champion, on a sentimental note, Andreescu said earlier this week Belinda Bencic’s 2015 victory over Serena Williams in the Rogers Cup finals was one of the most memorable and inspiring matches she witnessed at the tournament.
“I remember telling myself, I want to be like that,” said Andreescu Friday. “That was an amazing accomplishment. I think [Bencic] was only like 18 or 19. So hopefully this year is my year.”
Williams has been preparing to once again battle for her 24th grand slam win at the U.S. Open at the end of this month which would make her the most accomplished tennis player in history. As for how she feels about going up against Andreescu, Williams appears to have developed a fondness for the young Canadian and welcomes the challenge.
“I’ve never faced her but I’ve kind of become a fan with everyone rooting and cheering so hard,” said Williams on Centre Court right after her semi-final win. “It’s kind of been contagious, you know the Bianca effect. I’ve actually always wanted to play her so I look forward to it.”
With the tournament so close Andreescu’s hometown of Mississauga, Williams seems to be prepared to contend with an overwhelming crowd of Adreescu supporters on Sunday.
“Hopefully some of you guys will cheer for me tomorrow,” joked Williams to the packed stadium.
These finals will mark the first time in history that a Canadian woman has reached that level of the tournament in 50 years and the first time ever in the open era.
As for whether or not Andreescu is nervous going up against a tennis legend, Adreescu’s confidence and sense of humour appears to be unwavering.
“Whoever [I play in the finals], I’ll be ready,” laughed Andreesu. “Watch out.”