Toronto’s next big parade will be for Bianca Andreescu — if she wants it

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Toronto’s next big parade will be for Bianca Andreescu — if she wants it


Here’s the moon.

Here’s five million bucks.

Here’s a key to … Mississauga?

Whatever Bianca wants, Bianca gets.

And that will include a champion’s cavalcade in Toronto, should she fancy it.

“If she wants a parade in Toronto, there will be a parade in Toronto,’’ Mayor John Tory makes clear.

Bianca Andreescu, Canada’s first-ever Grand Slam titlist, is coming home from New York City to a heroine’s welcome, one way or the other. After humping her U.S. Open Trophy to the top of the Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, after doing a victory lap of all the American network morning shows, after a charming guest shot on The Tonight Show, the 19-year-old is finally catching her breath on Canadian soil.

Where, it seems, the civic dignitaries might have to split the baby.

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Mississauga, where Andreescu was born, has staked a claim, Mayor Bonnie Crombie tweeting that the city out there in GTA exurbia will honour the teen with a rally, a key and naming a street after her. Maybe that street will even have sidewalks!

Tory told the Star he’s keen to likewise pay homage to the newly minted tennis superstar who bested Serena Williams at Flushing Meadows on Saturday. But he’s mindful of not big-footing our neighbouring municipality.

“I’m not going to wrest her to Toronto. I don’t want it to look like I’m trying to grab her.”

Go ahead: Grab a gotcha.

It should be noted that, at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Mississauga was never mentioned, not in the player introductions — “from Ontario, Canada” — and not in the post-match trophy presentation. Further, though Andreescu was born in Mississauga, she now lives with her parents in Thornhill.

While a million people may not line the streets to salute Andreescu, as they did for the Toronto Raptors parade, surely a sizable crowd would muster at Nathan Phillips Square. The public has gone just as gaga for the teenager — and, by extension, tennis — as it did for the hoopsters who brought a championship north of the border. And Bianca’s not just passing through.

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So, on Tuesday, Tory sent Andreescu — or at least her peeps — a note pointing out she’s T.O. “family” and “we would be more than happy to host some sort of event for your achievement.”

Tory had searched through databases, looking for specific connections between Andreescu and Toronto that he might be able exploit, but thus far has come up empty. “She was born in Mississauga. She moved to Romania with her parents, then came back. She went to school in York Region. Her parents live in York Region.

“Could be she has time for only so many parades. I’m sure there will be other places where she’ll be saluted in Toronto … at a Raptors or Leafs game, where people can give her a lengthy standing ovation.

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“If she can be celebrated properly in Mississauga and we can be a part of that, that’s fine. But I’ve had lots of people ask me: When are we having a parade? I assure you we could get one organized. On the one hand, I want Toronto to celebrate what she’s done. On the other hand, I don’t want it to look like we’re just jumping on the Bianca bandwagon. Let’s just leave that up to her.”

We’ll ask her, at a media conference scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Thing is, Andreescu is highly unlikely to ask. She’s a nice, modest Canadian, after all. Actually, not typically self-effacing Canadian. The girl’s got swagger. In no small part, that accounts for what she was able to pull off out in Queens.

Clearly Andreescu has been enjoying the whirlwind, thanking the likes of Shania Twain and Steve Nash who’d saluted her on social media. On The Tonight Show, she called out — humorously — Drake, Raptors-groupie-in-chief, because she hadn’t heard a word from Drizzy. “Champagne Papi, I’m waiting for you.”

(Andreescu usually listens to Drake when she screws in her earbuds before walking on the court. On Saturday, she also flexed some Bianca-muscle prior to her match when Serena took up a position in the tunnel where the Canadian had stood for all her matches over the Open fortnight, waiting for the player introductions. Andreescu held her ground as the two women warmed up side-by-side.)

As of Monday, the teen had even more to get jiggy about. The new WTA rankings had her at No. 5. A year ago, she was outside the top 200.

“At the beginning of the year, I wanted to reach the top 100,’’ she said Sunday, on the Rockefeller roof. “But I guess I have to start setting my goals a bit higher. Let’s say, top three by the end of the year.”

Her coach, Sylvain Bruneau, told reporters in Montreal Monday that his jewel — who’s played gobs of competitive tennis this year, despite missing three months to rehab from a torn rotator cuff — will only have a brief furlough. Training resumes next week for the Beijing Open that starts Sept. 28. Andreescu’s immediate objective is to qualify for the WTA Finals in Shenzhen, China in late October, which is limited to the top eight women on tour. Andreescu is fourth in the standings at the moment.

Williams is currently at No. 9.

Serena seems to have put her U.S. Open disappointment behind her already, though. Monday evening, the Divine Miss S stepped out for a date night with hubby Alexis Ohanian, walking the red carpet for the NYC premiere of The Game Changers, wearing a sexy slip dress and yellow snakeskin pumps, hair fanning around her shoulders in voluminous curls.

Bianca can do big hair and fashion frocks too. Even if she did celebrate, post triumph, with a wee-hours slice of pizza in the Big Apple.

Rosie DiManno

Rosie DiManno is a columnist based in Toronto covering sports and current affairs. Follow her on Twitter: @rdimanno





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