"I think I'll be competing again at an even higher level than I was before," Bianca Andreescu tells PEOPLE of returning on the court after knee injury

By Karen Mizoguchi
March 10, 2020 12:25 PM
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Bianca Andreescu became a household name after defeating Serena Williams at the 2019 U.S. Open (in front of a worldwide audience, including Meghan Markle).

But since her September victory, the 19-year-old Ontario native has yet to score another major win, and hasn’t played a competitive match since suffering a knee injury in late October at the Shiseido WTA Finals in China.

Andreescu tells PEOPLE she is focused on returning to the court, even setting her sights on the Miami Open at the end of the month as the place where she hopes to make her comeback.

“I’m just taking it day by day, doing better and better as the days go on. I’m very pleased about that. I’ve been doing a lot of rehab on my knee, a lot of strengthening. Right now I’m hoping to play Miami Open,” the world No. 4 tennis star says.

“I’m super impatient to start competing again. I want to do the most, so I’m super anxious. But at the same time, I’m ready,” Andreescu shares. “I’ve been working really, really hard. I’m just ready to start competing again. I think I’ll be competing again at an even higher level than I was before.”

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Many had predicted that Andreescu would defend her title at the BNP Paribas Open in Palm Springs, California, but she pulled out from the tournament, explaining in a statement that she was “still not 100 percent” after her injury. The tournament was ultimately canceled due to coronavirus fears.

“It’s not easy. It’s honestly one of the toughest things I think an athlete has to go through in their career,” she tells PEOPLE about rebounding after getting hurt. “I’ve been through it quite a lot in my short career. I know what I’m dealing with and I just try my best to look at ways I can look towards the future. I try to keep my end goal in mind throughout the whole process because it can be pretty depressing. I try to stay as positive as I can.”

While athletes resuming play after an injury can be apprehensive and fearful, Andreescu is determined. “My ultimate goal in my career is to be No. 1 in the world, and win as many Grand Slams as I can,” she says of her end goal, adding that she is aiming “to continue to become a better athlete and person every single day.”

The tennis phenom adds, “Some days I don’t even want to get out of bed. But with the end goal in mind, it gets me motivation and inspiration to keep on pushing.”

Amid recovery and rehab, Andreescu has improved her eating habits to achieve a cleaner lifestyle.

“I changed my nutrition a bit more. I’m way more aware of what I’m putting in my mouth. It’s very important what you put in your body and I think that’s helped me tremendously,” she says.

In addition to meditating “every single day and every single night,” the Canadian star listens to her favorite musicians (Drake and J. Cole are at the top of her playlist) and catches up on Shameless and Grey’s Anatomy. “I’m addicted to Netflix, I don’t think that’s a good thing,” she says, laughing. “That’s the best therapy for me.”

And another thing she has been working on: Learning to be less impatient.

“Well it’s not only me who tells myself that, it’s literally everyone around me. I kind of grew up knowing that I was an impatient person,” she says. “I’ve learned that success doesn’t come overnight. The moment after the U.S. Open is kind of when everything just dawned on me and made me realize all that work paid off.”

Andreescu became the first Canadian player ever to win a Grand Slam singles title and is the first teenager to win a Grand Slam title in 13 years. (She’s also the first player born in the 2000s to win a Grand Slam title.)

“It wasn’t an overnight success, I was dreaming of that moment since I was 12 years old so it’s really made me realize how much patience you need to have in order to continue on pushing and following your dreams,” she shares.

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And her biggest dream yet could be the Olympics, an international competition she’s been striving to be a part of since age 12.

“I’m really looking forward to the Olympics this year, 100 percent. I remember when I was 12 years old. I remember watching that 2012 Olympics and telling my mom, ‘I want to be there.’ And I have a really good chance this year so I’m super excited,” she says. “I’ve heard from athletes who’ve played them over the years and they say it’s one of the best experiences of their lives so that’s definitely a goal of mine. Obviously not just participating in it, but getting that gold medal would be something incredible.”

After possibly competing in Tokyo in July 2019, Andreescu also wants to play in the major summer tournaments as well. “Obviously the Roger’s Cup, playing on home soil and defending my title at the U.S. Open,” she says of her future goals.

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