On Saturday afternoon in New York, Bianca Andreescu apologized after winning the biggest tennis match of her life.
She told the spectators gathered for the women’s championship final of the U.S. Open she was sorry that their hero, Serena Williams, had become another victim in Andreescu’s almost ridiculous rise to the Top 5 in the world rankings.
She had blocked those same spectators out of her mind only a few minutes before when they were roaring Serena on to what they hoped would be her 24th Grand Slam title, tying the record held by Margaret Court.
Andreescu had won the first set in the championship match 6-3 and was up 5-1 second set, one game away from victory, when Williams won four games in a row to tie the set at 5-5.
It was a moment when many players Andreescu’s age, 19, playing a player of the stature of Williams would have crumpled.
But Andreescu held her serve to break the string, then broke Williams’ serve one more time to seal the win.
Even her reaction at the end of the match was typically Canadian. So often we see the winner of a major throw their racket into the air and collapse on the court. Andreescu simply dropped her racket, saluted her family and friends sitting in a courtside box, then went to the net to hug Williams.
After that, she fell to the court for a few seconds, taking in the moment.
A year ago, she lost in a qualifying match for the U.S. Open and was ranked outside the top 200 in the world.
Now, she has won 45 of 49 matches played this year, coming back after a shoulder injury forced her to miss all of the grass-court season. She has won 14 matches in a row, including an injury-shortened win over Williams in Toronto.
I followed most of the match, as I do so many sporting events, on the BBC text commentary. Reading stories from this side of the Atlantic, in both Canada and the U.S., the general feeling seemed to be that Andreescu’s run was nice, but now it was time for her to get out of the way of history, and let Williams tie the Grand Slam record at her national open.
Andreescu, however, while she certainly knows about Williams’ history in the sport, apparently doesn’t know you can’t stand in the way of history.
Instead, as the Toronto Raptors tweeted after her win, showing the NBA championship trophy next to a Raptors jersey with Andreescu’s name and the number 1 on the back, “SheTheNorth.”