Granny helps Andreescu rediscover fighting spirit

Staying hungry is Canadian's goal in Paris and beyond

Bianca Andreescu, first round, Roland-Garros 2023© Julien Crosnier/FFT
 - Chris Oddo

Bianca Andreescu is tapping an unlikely source to help her rediscover her winning force: the 2019 US Open champion says a conversation - in Romanian - with her grandma has helped her reconnect with her tennis raison d'etre.

“I'm going to be honest,” she said on Tuesday night in Paris, when asked to explain how she pushes through when times get tough. “I started thinking about my grandmother because she's getting old, and I'm very close to her. She said - in Romanian, she doesn't speak English - ‘Bianca, I really want to watch you win another major.’"

Andreescu, who rallied from a set and a break down to defeat Victoria Azarenka in first-round action on Tuesday, says her granny's words were on her mind as she mounted her electrifying comeback against the two-time major champion.

“I had that in the back of my head at one point when I was down 3-1," she said. "I started to get emotional, too. At that point something just came out of me, and I started playing better.” 

Having grandma close to her heart helps Andreescu realise that success on the tennis court is worth fighting for. 

“The last few weeks haven't been easy for me, just like recovering from my injury and all that stuff. I'm still not 100 per cent. I still get pain here and there. I just have to push through it and not think that it's bad pain. 

“My fighting spirit is back, so that feels nice.”

Seeking new milestones

After a hair-raising fall in Miami led to two torn ankle ligaments in March, doubts started creeping into Andreescu's head. Barely 19 when she won her maiden major title at the 2019 US Open, the 22-year-old Canadian admits she’s waiting impatiently for her next breakout. 

“I'm just trying to stay positive as much as I can,” she told a small group of reporters.

“I know it's cliche, but it works for me. And continuing to be patient because I know I'm doing the right things. I've been saying that for the past year and a half - I'm hoping to get a win soon because time is ticking here.

"I'm 23 very soon… Like, you know, time is running out.”

Bianca Andreescu, first round, Roland-Garros 2023© Julien Crosnier/FFT

Just two weeks shy of said 23rd birthday, the world No.42 admits that it has been hard living up to her storied past. 

“Sometimes I feel pretty insecure about myself considering coming off a great 2019 and then not really doing anything per se and not living up to the expectations that I put on myself,” she said.

Hungry for... hunger

In the last few seasons, Andreescu has battled mental health issues and myriad injuries; it hasn’t always been easy to stay positive. 

“Over the past few weeks I had a lot of bad days and a lot of negative thoughts crept in,” she told reporters after edging Azarenka. “I mean, this match definitely gives me confidence in that sense. I want to go back to how hungry I was in 2019, more than ever.” 

The former world No.4, who faces American wildcard Emma Navarro in the second round in Paris, entered Roland-Garros on a three-match losing streak, having lost both her clay-court contests this spring. 

But she showed her steel on Tuesday and, inspired by the words of her grandmother, dug deep to engineer her gritty comeback.

The victory serves as a reminder: when Andreescu is engaged and playing with passion, she is among the most dangerous forces in women’s tennis.