On Sunday afternoon in Toronto, a dream final was set up at the Rogers Cup.
On one hand, Serena Williams, 37, probably the greatest women's player of all time. A winner of 72 titles in her singles career. Still hungry, still powerful. Still looking for more wins.
On the other? A player half her age who grew up around the corner in Mississauga, Ontario: 19 year-old Bianca Andreescu.
The stadium was packed! The crowd alive with excitement! A legend versus one of the most exciting young tennis players in the world! Wow! (We're running out of exclamation points here!!)
In the end, Bianca triumphed... though in the strangest of ways.
After only about twenty minutes and with the score just 3–1, Serena announced through tears that she couldn't continue due to a back injury. It was a disappointment — no athlete wants to win a title like that, and fans were deprived of a dramatic match between the two players.
But in other ways, it still delivered all the feels of a win. If you missed it, we'll show you what we mean.
A challenging injury
The injury Serena sustained is called a back spasm. It's a very peculiar injury. Unlike a broken bone or a muscle tear, there's nothing to put back together and heal. In a back spasm, the muscles unexpectedly and uncontrollably tense, contract, stiffen. It can go from being a dull ache to being so painful it's difficult to move.
For Serena yesterday, her pain must have been very strong. After all, this is an athlete who won the 2017 Australian Open — one of the four Grand Slams — without losing a single set while she was eight weeks pregnant. It takes a lot for Serena to quit. And the tears on her face as she sat realizing she couldn't go on told us that.
Which is where Bianca comes in...
Healing each other
Bianca may only be 19, but she has had her own injury struggles this year. After winning Indian Wells in March, she developed a shoulder injury that quickly became a big issue for her. In fact, the start of the Rogers Cup was the first time she'd played since May!
So as soon as Serena announced that she couldn't continue, Bianca went over to her bench to comfort her. She hugged the all-time champ and, well, it's best to watch for yourself... (the video isn't too long, but if want to skip ahead, go to 2:10).
The veteran and the 'old soul'
So what's next? There's another tournament that has already begun in Cincinnati (August 10–18), so these two will try to get right back at it. Hopefully, Serena's back calms down and she can continue being the inspiring competitor that she was born to be.
As for Bianca? She is now ranked 14th in the world, up from 178th at the end of 2018 (that's incredible). She has won two huge tournaments, 38 matches, and lost only 4 times. Much like Brooke Henderson has done in golf, she is already blowing away Canadian records as a teenager. And she is the first Canadian to win the Rogers Cup in 50 years. She's just getting started...
After the match, Serena said she was Bianca's fan and called her an 'old soul', meaning wise and mature beyond her years. In a way, getting that kind of praise might just be the biggest thing Bianca won all week.
We can't wait to see what comes next!