Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon recaps an absolutely wild US Open on the women’s side.
By the end of the year, they’ll have written songs about that forehand.
They’ll sing about the shot because it’ll be the shot that will have changed everything, and by the time they’re done praising its significance the forehand will have managed to, like, cure cancer or something.
Seriously. This forehand really is that monumental.
With one sweeping serve return with her strongest shot, Bianca Andreescu changed absolutely everything for Canadian tennis and, well let’s get to paraphrasing Neil Armstrong out of the way first: hers was definitely one small forehand for a tennis player but also a giant leap for a tennis country all at once.
Doing it for Canada.. pic.twitter.com/Rh49c3SxzQ
— Jimmie48 Photography (@JJlovesTennis) September 6, 2019
You’ll forgive a Canadian columnist for his hyperboles but in light of shocking events we sometimes write shocking things. Over the weekend, in case you were living under a rock, Bianca Andreescu became the first Canadian ever, man or woman, to win a Grand Slam singles title by defeating Serena Williams by the score of 6-3 and 7-5.
The loss forced the great Williams to have to wait yet another few months, at least, before finally equally Margaret Court’s career tally of 24 Grand Slam titles but truly, the match was all about what Andreescu accomplished.
Simply by stepping out on the court against Williams, the 19-year-old had already just about become the greatest singles player in the country’s history: not only had she lost only four of her 37 matches in 2019 and had won all seven of her matches against players in the Top 10, but she had also captured the Indian Wells and Rogers Cup titles earlier in the year.
And well if there were any doubters, or die-hard Eugenie Bouchard fans, remaining, this US Open win ought to quell any remaining doubts. Not only is she the country’s first singles champion, but she’s also about as well positioned as anyone else currently playing to leave a lasting mark on the sport. We wondered a year ago if we had finally found the heir apparent to the Serena Williams throne—maybe we were a year too early?
After the win and during the trophy presentation on Arthur Ashe Stadium, the importance of the win wasn’t lost on the teenager. “It’s so hard to explain in words. I’m just beyond grateful,” Andreescu said. “I’ve worked really, really hard. This year has been a dream come true.”
Late in the second set, the dream almost turned nightmarish. After jumping out to a 7-5 and 5-1 lead, Andreescu just about chocked the second set away behind a newly functional and dangerous Williams and, especially, a highly partisan New York crowd. Williams brought things back levelled at 5-5 before the Canadian managed to stop the bleeding with a (difficult) hold on her service game. And suddenly, a mere handful of points away from history, Andreescu stood tall again.
So many players would have collapsed until the end og the third set with Serena charging back like this, with the match point gone, with the nerves. No idea where Andreescu finds this amount of self belief in the most tense moments but that’s a thing of beauty.
— Carole Bouchard (@carole_bouchard) September 7, 2019
In maybe the very best thing we can say of her performance over the weekend, Andreescu took things directly to Williams and controlled things during the match against the best player of all time, leaving little doubt as to who the best player of the pair was on this day.
Andreescu won the tournament for everyone who came before her. She won it for Eugenie Bouchard, who couldn’t quite get over the hump but whose star burned ever so brightly while it burned. For Milos Raonic, whose entirely dependable and regular game over a decade has somehow painted him as disappointing. For Sebastien Lareau and Daniel Nestor, who won every possible thing they could have won in tennis in their doubles career. For Tennis Canada, whose bet a few years back to create national training centres in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver seems to have been paid in full. Hell, she even won it for Greg Rusedski, who took his talents to Great Britain once upon a time right before he peaked and didn’t want to represent Canada.
That’s not all though. Andreescu won this US Open title for anyone in the near future who might hedge their bets on her accomplishments with a “yes but what about a Grand Slam?” She won it for those who turned her mom in quite frankly a wonderful meme.
— Asparagus Hardcourterer???????? (@samstennis189) September 7, 2019
She won it for every single one of us who understood what a shocking turn of events this win was. She won it for women’s tennis and the guarantee that this generation won’t be like the generation of men’s players from the 1990s. She won it for the wunderkind GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and everyone on the bandwagon who replied to him that it’s #LeafsSeason.
She won it, in short, for Canada and all of Canada. (And Angelique Kerber too, she won it for her. How does it feel, Angelique?!?)
But most of all, Andreescu won the US Open for herself—and that’s plenty.
“Is this real life?”
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) September 7, 2019
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG