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Andreescu on volunteering experience that changed her perspective

Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu says she has a new-found appreciation for her life after volunteering at a shelter for domestic abuse victims during her break from the sport, which she called one of the best decisions of her life.

The 21-year-old pulled the plug on her 2021 season after Indian Wells in October, saying she wanted to take a break to recover from a physically and emotionally difficult season.

Now in her second tournament back, Andreescu revealed how she consciously chose to do things outside of tennis during her time off and regroup.

“I did some charity work which kind of brings me back to like my main goal, which is to help others. I kind of want to just use my platform, which is tennis, to widen that variety. So being in that position really reminded me why I actually play the sport. I did other things outside of tennis. I picked up martial arts. I took dance lessons. I played a lot of basketball. Just a bunch of stuff.”

“I started making some music as well again, because I started that during the quarantine back in 2020. But I kind of picked it up again. I hung out with a bunch of my friends, kind of got a lot of stuff out of my system, including spending time with family. I just kind of regrouped, basically.”

The Canadian, who defeated American Alison Riske in the first round of the Madrid Open on Friday to secure a spot back in the world’s top 100, also spoke about how her volunteering experience at a domestic abuse shelter gave her a new-found appreciation for her own life.

“I volunteered at a women’s domestic violence shelter. I also volunteered at a SickKids Hospital. I did some videos for some patients who were struggling a lot physically. Just to see the look on their face like, you know, they did reaction videos, just makes my whole day. So I’m very grateful for that experience.”

“I feel that it’s (domestic abuse) not something that is not discussed often, first of all. It’s starting to be more discussed now. There’s a lot more awareness about that. I know some people in my life that have gone through something like that, and it’s one of the most traumatic things ever, and a bunch of other things I’m not going to go into detail about but I felt super connected with it. Who knows, maybe one day I will create my own thing. I have a lot of ideas that I don’t know exactly yet if I’m going to do this or that or that, but I definitely have ideas, and like actually being in that environment really helps me to eventually come to that decision. ”

“I actually spoke to a couple of women and their stories of what they went through, and if I go into detail I’m going to cry, because it’s like the saddest thing ever. There is this one lady who was basically running away from her husband de ella that wanted to kill her, like that kind of stuff. It’s just absurd things. I can’t believe any human being has to go through that.”

I can’t say that I regret that decision. I think it was one of the best ever: Andreescu

Andreescu also explained why she has a new mindset when it comes to tennis, which she has started loving again after a difficult period due to injuries.

“Just being in that environment really, first of all, makes me appreciate my life. For me, tennis is just a platform that I love, now I love it again, to basically help and contribute to a better world in a way. That’s kind of how I’m viewing tennis. I’m not identifying myself with the sport anymore, because I felt like last year, if I lost, I hated myself. If I won, it was like the best thing ever. Last year I was losing way more than I was winning, I think. I don’t know exactly my record. Now I’m viewing tennis as just another opportunity to get better as a person and it’s something I’m passionate about, so I want to enjoy myself out there.”

While many other athletes may have regrets about taking a break during their prime years, Andreescu said her break was one of the best toughest yet best decisions she has ever made.

“It was one of the toughest decisions I had to make in my career. It didn’t come overnight, like I have been feeling some sort of way up until that point for maybe about like actually maybe three months. I was going to say two, but maybe even longer. I didn’t want to continue putting the people close to me through what I was going through. Not only for myself but for them too because I love them so much. I just felt like it wasn’t fair.”

“I thought of different scenarios, like, Okay, I stop after Indian Wells and then what happens? I take a month off? Will things really change? I don’t know. So I kind of didn’t put a time on it. I just wanted to figure out, you know, what’s good for me and what’s not good for me. I was luckily able to figure that out in five months. It’s pretty long, but at the same time, it’s not. But I think I really used my time wisely. Now I can’t say that I regret that decision. I think it was one of the best ever.”

Andreescu plays sixth seed Danielle Collins in the second round of the WTA Madrid Open next and the Canadian says she is ready to be back on the tour after her five-month break.

“I don’t think you ever really know 100% sure with things like that (coming back after a break) at least, but weeks prior to that I just kept feeling this urge of wanting to compete again and wanting to practice and challenge myself and push myself like I did before, obviously in a different way, but I just felt that urge. So one week I was like, Maybe it’s time. I spoke to my team and, you know, they kind of like quizzed me to see where I’m at. They’re like, I think you’re ready too.”

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