TORONTO • US Open champion Bianca Andreescu returned to Toronto a conquering hero on Wednesday night with a little more celebrating to do before getting back to work and setting new goals, such as staying injury-free.
Looking weary after a whirlwind media tour of New York, the Canadian, who was born in Mississauga, a suburb of Toronto, said she was running on adrenaline after her shock 6-3, 7-5 victory over 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams at Flushing Meadows last Saturday.
Celebrations are, however, expected to become a regular thing for Andreescu, who pundits predict will soon climb to world No. 1 and win many more Majors.
The future seems bright for the 19-year-old, but her meteoric rise has not come without challenges particularly with injuries, which at one point threatened to derail her breakthrough season.
"If I'm healthy, then I think I can do even bigger things in this sport," the world No. 5, ranked 178th at the end of last term, told reporters.
"One of an athlete's biggest enemies is being injured."
Not yet out of her teens, Andreescu has already spent a good chunk of her young career battling back, leg and shoulder issues that caused her to miss a big chunk of the clay-court campaign and the entire grass-court swing, including Wimbledon in July.
But on the North American hardcourts, she looked invincible, building on her Rogers Cup win to become Canada's first Major winner.
Having won her first Major, two of the WTA Tour's elite events in Toronto and Indian Wells, and breaking into the top 10 for the first time in her career, Andreescu has had to do a quick reset of her goals, having already far exceeded her targets for the year.
Now, she is focused on qualifying for the Oct 27-Nov 3 season-ending WTA Tour Finals in Shenzhen, China, climbing further up the rankings and representing her country at next year's Tokyo Olympics.
"I want to do well in my next couple of tournaments in Asia to qualify for the WTA Finals and crack the top three," said Andreescu. "I have been thinking about playing the Olympics for a couple of years, it's a very special event."
Before all that, she will bask in the glow of her US Open triumph just a little bit longer. "Today, I will celebrate a little bit, but I'm focused on what's to come," she said.
Separately, former world No. 1 Kim Clijsters yesterday announced on social media she would be coming out of retirement after seven years to re-join the Tour next January, revealing that "at 36, I feel like I'm too young to be retired".
Of the four-time Major champion from Belgium, WTA chairman Steve Simon said her return was "exciting news" and "only adds to the compelling wealth of talent in women's tennis".