Bianca, the new queen of New York

 - Alix Ramsay

Bianca Andreescu defeats Serena Williams to win her maiden Grand slam title.

Bianca Andreescu kissing her trophy 2019 US Open©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

It is an occupational hazard of being a living legend: at some point, you are going to face a mirror image of yourself.

For 20 years, Serena Williams has been winning Grand Slam titles and dominating the women’s game. She has been the leader, the greatest, the woman every young kid looked up to when they first picked up a racket. She has inspired generations of players: they all wanted to grow up to be her, including one budding hopeful in Ontario, Canada. Her name was Bianca Andreescu.

Bianca Andreescu in her box 2019 US Open©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

“I think we're really similar "

Fast forward 19 years and that same Bianca Andreescu faced her idol in the massive Arthur Ashe Stadium in the final of the US Open. And then she beat her idol in the exactly the same way that Serena used to flatten her rivals when she was a young, fearless woman with her whole career ahead of her.

“I think we're really similar in terms of we both are fighters and we both are really intense,” Serena explained. “I feel like we both enjoy what we do, but at the same time - it's hard to describe - super intense with what we do.”

From the serve to the thundering groundstrokes, from the refusal to believe that anyone could be better than her to the end result (the silverware and, in this case, a cheque for $3.85million), Andreescu was a carbon copy of her hero. She was fearsome and she was bold – and she won 6-3, 7-5 in exactly 100 minutes.

Bianca Andreescu on the ground as she won the 2019 US Open©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

What makes Andreescu special

It could have been quicker but for Serena’s fight back in the second set. The former champion was trying to win her 24th Grand Slam title without a first serve and even for living legends, that is neither wise nor easy. But when she found herself at match point down, the true Serena made her first appearance.

She fought and she ran and she piled on the pressure. Andreescu, for once, could not deal with this onslaught. She did not fold but she could not defend herself from the all-out attack. The match point was gone and Serena had broken serve. Serena also won the next three games – suddenly the momentum had changed.

But that is what makes Andreescu special. Most 19-year-old debutantes would struggle to cope with such a situation, particularly when it is set the accompaniment of 23,000 New Yorkers cheering for the woman on the other side of the net. But Andreescu didn’t struggle.

She didn’t waver. She did what she had been doing for the past two weeks and 25 minutes after her first match point, she converted her third. She was the new champion and there was nothing Serena could have done about it.

Bianca Andreescu not believing she just won the 2019 US Open©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

World No.1 at some point

“This wasn't the only time I visualised playing in the finals actually against Serena Williams,” Andreescu said, fighting back the tears. “It's so crazy, man. I've been dreaming of this moment for the longest time.

“Like I said after I won the Orange Bowl [under 16s], a couple months after, I really believed that I could be at this stage. Since then, honestly I've been visualising it almost every single day. For it to become a reality is just so crazy. I guess these visualizations really, really work.”

Before the match, Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena’s coach, had predicted that the Canadian would be the world No.1 at some point – and sooner rather than later. As it is, she should begin her reign as US Open champion as the new world No.5, a leap of 10 ranking spots since the tournament began.

Bianca Andreescu hitting a backhand during the 2019 US Open final©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

She powered her way through

Since the start of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells back in early March, Andreescu has lost just one match – and that was only half a match. She won Indian Wells, moved on to Miami nursing a sore shoulder and then pulled out of her fourth round match against Anett Kontaveit with that shoulder problem. Coming back for Roland Garros, Andreescu won her opening match and then pulled out of the tournament before the second round.

When she was finally fit enough to return, she powered her way through the draw to win the title in Toronto and then marched on New York. The rest, as they say is history.

The only upside for Serena is that this was the best she has played in a major final since she returned from maternity leave. This was the fittest she has been since giving birth to Olympia, and this was the best she had moved since her return. That bodes well for the future. And against another opponent, it may have been enough to win, but not against Andreescu, not against her mini-me.

“I felt like Bianca plays well under pressure,” Serena said. “She played really well at Indian Wells. She was definitely not a favourite there, but she goes out and she plays hard. She does what she does best, and that's move up to the ball, that's hit winners, that's play with a ton of intensity.”

Serena Williams disappointed 2019 US Open©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

"Not necessarily chasing a record”

As for the holy grail, the 24th Grand Slam title, Serena was not concerned that another opportunity had escaped her. She had not played her best but she could play better in the future.

“I'm not necessarily chasing a record,” she said. “I'm just trying to win Grand Slams. It's definitely frustrating, you know. But for the most part I just am still here. I'm still doing what I can do.”

But Andreescu will be doing just that, too. The two kindred spirits could be locking horns many times in the future as they chase down the biggest prizes in their sport.