STUTTGART, Germany — Bianca Andreescu returns to the court this week for the first time this season, which is encouraging news considering she was pondering her future in tennis not so long ago.
“I’m being completely honest, but actually I wanted to quit the sport,” Andreescu told WTA Insider in Stuttgart this week. “It was really bad. I’m privileged in a way to have this opportunity and to do all of this. Now I am very grateful, more than ever. So I don’t want people to think, ‘Oh, you’re a little baby, just suck it up.’ But it was an accumulation of two and a half years, a lot had happened and I didn’t want to deal with anything anymore.
“So I realized that I really love the sport and I want to continue, but not just for the sake of winning Grand Slams or doing this and that. I want to do something bigger in sport and contribute to a better world too. I realize tennis is my way there.”
This week, the 2019 US Open champion will play the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, her first tournament of the 2022 season. She decided to postpone the start of her season to address mental health issues and after a seven-week block of pre-season training, she returns to competition with a renewed appreciation for the game.
Bianca Andreescu @PorscheTennis: “I am very happy to play again. The last few months have been quite difficult, but as cliche as it sounds, I feel like I’ve found myself. I really developed a stronger passion for this game and I realized that I really love this sport.” pic.twitter.com/HetkezZJsY
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) April 18, 2022
“I never felt like I was really ready [to come back]’ Andreescu told reporters at the media day in Stuttgart. “I’m not sure anyone is really ready for anything.
“But I just felt like my time off was enough. I got kind of tired and bored of not challenging myself on the pitch. I really missed the fire I used to compete and push myself with. I think that’s when I thought it would be nice to start playing again.”
Andreescu spent her break breaking away from tennis and living the life of a normal 21-year-old. Between spending time with her family and friends and devastating online sessions of Call of Duty or NBA 2K22, Andreescu traveled to Costa Rica and discovered new tools to help her mentally focus.
“Just having this opportunity really helped me get out of the tennis world,” Andreescu said. “I was in my own bubble, just full meditation, yoga, all that hippie stuff I love.
“I take a lot of what I learned there and bring it with me on tour because I remember how good that retreat made me feel. So if I can grab some stuff and put it on tour, it’s going to really help me maintain my sanity.”
Andreescu sat down with WTA Insider in Stuttgart to talk about her decision to take a break and the new perspective it brought to her career:
WTA Insider: You’ve had to take longer breaks in the past, but that was due to injury. This time it was a choice. Does that make a difference?
Andreescu: Yes I think so. Even when I didn’t play in 2020, that was kind of a decision I couldn’t make either. It was a bit forced. This is definitely the first time I’ve made the decision. But I thought about it two, three months before my actual break, right after the US Open.
It definitely wasn’t an easy decision, but I said to myself, ‘Look, I’ve been feeling this way for a while. A month break is not enough.’ I spoke to a few people who were close to me and also to some professionals. It was a collective decision, but of course at the end of the day it was my final decision. But I think it really helped a lot. It really did.
WTA Insider: In your press conference you said that you are not so focused on results at the moment. Do you think you’ll come back as a more patient person?
Andreescu: I guess I’m patient because I felt like I used to feel so much pressure – not from other people, although that’s inevitable – but the pressure I was putting on myself was constant stress for me. I felt like I had to keep applying that pressure so I could keep pushing and pushing myself.
But the whole point of that break was that I realized it couldn’t be like that. I made it a habit and it was very unhealthy. I identified too much with my results. When I lost, I hated myself. When I won, I loved myself. Or even when I won, sometimes I was still hard on myself because I didn’t like a game in the match.
I was very critical and it was very unhealthy. People said this and this and this to me and I took it in as best I could at the time, but I felt like I was so cut off from it all. I was in my own world. I felt like I absorbed what they were telling me, but at the same time I really didn’t. That was not at all fair to my team, my family or my friends. So I thought, ‘Yo, something has to change because if I continue like this, my career is going to go down the drain.’
WTA Insider: You mentioned that you would like to apply some of the lessons you learned on your Costa Rica trip to your tennis world. Which is more helpful to you: keeping your worlds separate or merging them?
Andreescu: I think it depends a lot on the situation, but something like this is very important for me to start my professional career, for example, because I’ve learned a lot. It’s personal but also professional in a way because when I wake up every morning I don’t want to do the same drills just at a tournament. I want to have it all my life.
It’s a bit like meditation. I don’t just use all these techniques for my career, I use them for everything. So I think it all depends.
WTA Insider: Do you find it easy to stick to routines?
Andreescu: I’m definitely not a fan of routines, but for certain things I think it’s important to stick to a routine. I’ve experimented a lot with stuff like this over the years. What is a good time for me to go to bed? When is the best time to wake up in the morning? I still change things like that.
But, for example, in the last few months I’ve noticed that I work better in the morning than in the evening. I have more energy in the morning. So I try to schedule my exercises in the morning. But of course you have to change it sometimes because you’re playing a night game, so you have to get used to the lights somehow.
But it’s not easy to stick to routines. Even meditating every morning isn’t always easy, but I think what will really make me successful in the future is finding the discipline to do all these things. I think that’s just a muscle that people need to build because not everyone likes routines.