It was a victory for the ages on Saturday. And one for the nation at a critical juncture in its direction.
The young Canadian upstart, Bianca Andresscu, stood down female tennis’ version of Muhammad Ali and bested Serena Williams on her home court of the Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium in New York City Saturday.
Through poise and power, determination and the best forehand in women’s tennis, Andresscu cut a swath through the sport’s ‘Greatest of All Time’ player.
Even a second set hiccup that allowed Williams to crawl back into the 2019 U.S. Open Women’s final was simply a small bit of drama.
Andresscu, the heir-apparent of women’s tennis, seemingly toyed with her opponent for a little while, opening the door slightly to a miraculous Williams comeback, only to slam it on Serena’s foot and take all the air out of a raucous Open crowd pining for their hopeful to win her 24th Grand Slam title.
And the quintessential Canadian didn’t stop after winning the match and her first major tennis title. Andresscu, who also won the Rogers Cup in Toronto and the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells this season, apologized to the pro-Serena crowd, recognizing after the match 90 per cent of the stadium had turned up to see the Canadian lose and her opponent set a record for Grand Slam titles in a career.
A certain lock to be the Lou Marsh trophy winner as the Canada’s top athlete for 2019, Andresscu’s story is one all Canadians can take heart in through a number of ways.
Firstly, our nation loves an underdog that winds up winning big on an international stage and there’s none bigger in tennis than the U.S. Open. Coming into the season ranked outside the top 125 female players in the world, there’s no question it was a combination of the Mississauga native realizing her talent and utilizing determination to make a quick ascent to top of the ultra competitive world of professional tennis.
But what truly makes Andresscu’s story our very own is that she’s the child of immigrants. Nicu and Maria Andresscu arrived in Canada in the mid-90’s with nothing more than one suitcase full of clothing and a frying pan. Hard working professionals from Romania with education strengthen their case to become new Canadians to be sure but the Andresscu family story is one of good fortune, hard work, risk and a welcoming country that offered opportunity.
While on a grander stage, those factors in the success of the Andresscus are not, at their heart, unlike other success immigration stories in Canada’s cultural mosaic.
And it’s serendipity that Andresscu would climb to the forefront when the direction of the country could be shifted Oct. 21st. As the federal election campaign kicks off in earnest this week, there will be plenty of talk about immigration in Canada and, while very much an oft-discussed topic in years past, the timbre and tone of this topic seems to have been amplified by the waves of populism lapping upon the 49th parallel.
In the days of blatantly false memes that distort truth and get passed around social media like a bad penny for underlying motives, those that would have us change course on the immigration process in our country and destroy our mosaic will always bring up the very worst case scenarios of people who weren’t born here that have run afoul of the law or haven’t enjoyed the success of natural born residents.
Let Bianca Andresscu and the example of her parents chasing the Canadian dream be the uniting light that shines into those far recesses of political structure and send those that would try and to provoke our fears and tap at the worst instincts of Canadians back into the darkness of insignificance.