Current and former players are praising teenager Bianca Andreescu of Canada — not only for winning her third title of the year and first on home soil, but for the gracious way she handled a surprise retirement by Serena Williams.
Andreescu won the Rogers Cup in Toronto on Sunday after an emotional Williams said she could not continue in the final because of back spasms.
Trailing 1-3 in the first set, Serena walked back to her chair and the umpire called for medical assistance. The former number one could be seen holding back tears as Andreescu walks up to the former world number one and says, ‘Serena, I’m so sorry. Can I give you a hug? Are you okay?’
Serena Williams & Bianca Andreescu are why we love sports pic.twitter.com/HF5BPj2h1i— Reese Waters (@reesewaters) August 12, 2019
Williams called Andreescu an "old soul" and a "great sportswoman." Those words meant a lot to Andreescu, who grew up idolizing the 23-time Grand Slam champion.
"I've watched (Williams) play my whole life," the 19-year-old Andreescu said Monday in a phone interview with The Canadian Press. "She's a champion and she's an inspiration on and off the court. So having those words come out of her mouth about me is pretty damn awesome."
Many others were quick to offer words of approval, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who called Andreescu "an inspiration to players across Canada" in a tweet.
"Today you showed tennis fans what sportsmanship is all about," he wrote on Sunday.
Tennis icon Billie Jean King, famous for pushing for women's equality in the sport, also joined the cheers on social media, saying Andreescu showed "a level of maturity well beyond her years."
"This is how women should treat each other. Her empathy and support for Serena were admirable. Competitors and women supporting women!" King tweeted.
(With inputs from AP)
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