Wayne Gretzky sees Bianca Andreescu as preferrred hero for youths in Canada – Sportsnet.ca


There’s a degree, someplace after being nice at their sport, the place athletes turn out to be one thing greater than simply exceptionally gifted. They disrupt our assumptions. They turn out to be the ‘however’ in how their sports activities are understood — NHL gamers don’t rating 200 factors in a season, however there’s Wayne Gretzky, doing it three seasons in a row; undersized level guards from Canada don’t win prestigious NBA {hardware}, however there’s Steve Nash, successful back-to-back MVP awards.

This level is the place heroes are made.

Few people ever attain it. And people who’ve been there, who know what it takes to ascend that top, know intimately who else has seen these heights. So when Gretzky, the NHL’s 200-point hero himself, factors to Canadian tennis phenom Bianca Andreescu as a perfect hero for the nation’s youth, the opinion is one price listening to.

“My hat goes off to her, I don’t suppose we might have a greater hero in our nation for younger youngsters,” Gretzky instructed Nash and Vasek Pospisil on this week’s episode of Tennis United, a brand new ATP and WTA-produced digital present. “I feel it’s simply really exceptional. She deserves all of the credit score that she’s getting.”

Gretzky’s familiarity with Andreescu’s explicit path to greatness began the place many individuals’s did — on the Indian Wells Open. Annually, the Nice One makes the journey to Palm Springs to soak up the occasion.

In 2019, making that journey meant watching Andreescu defeat 4 top-20 gamers within the final 4 rounds — together with No. 6 Elina Svitolina and No. 8 Angelique Kerber within the semifinals and last respectively, each in three units — en path to changing into the primary wild card ladies’s singles champion in match historical past and the primary 18-year-old to win the occasion since Serena Williams in 1999.

“I obtained to see her play in her very first match in Palm Springs the 12 months she gained the U.S. Open,” Gretzky stated. “We noticed her first match. And I bear in mind watching the match considering, ‘My gosh, that’s one of many hardest working athletes I’ve ever seen in my life.’ And because the story goes, she went on to win the match — her first massive win.”

Andreescu didn’t cease there, in fact. She went on to assert the U.S. Open open title and though Nash wasn’t there to witness it in particular person, the best way she went about doing it left an indelible impression.

“To have the ability to deal with that at 19,” Nash mused. “To be standing there on the road towards the best of all time, at 19, on principally [Williams’] dwelling courtroom, the followers need [Williams to win] greater than something. To have the ability to really feel that momentum swing to date the opposite approach, the place you’re completely on prime and not solely are you trying eye-to-eye with Serena, however you’ve misplaced all momentum.

“…For her to take a deep breath and go for winners, and never cease taking part in and nonetheless have that character. That’s particular.”

In that historic run and its afterglow, Andreescu captured the creativeness of younger Canadian tennis gamers throughout the nation. Nineteen-year-olds don’t beat the best of all time on her dwelling courtroom, however there’s Andreescu, holding the U.S. Open trophy.

She grew to become, like Nash, proof that somebody from north of the border couldn’t simply compete with the world’s finest, however beat them.

“Individuals like Steve have been pioneers in basketball, Mike Weir for golf in Canada,” Gretzky stated. “Carling Bassett and now Bianca in ladies’s tennis in Canada. These issues are all so vital for the expansion of our nation in sports activities. You gotta look as much as folks, and also you gotta have heroes — as a result of all of us do, at one level in our lives, we have been all youngsters dreaming.”


This week’s episode of the ATP & WTA-produced digital present Tennis United consists of this interview in addition to interviews with a fantastic array of Canadian Tennis gamers, together with Felix Auger-Aliassime and US Open champion Bianca Andreescu. Head over to the ATP and WTA YouTube pages to take a look at the complete episode on Friday at 2pm EST.




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