Toronto’s tennis star is back in fine form and gearing up for the National Bank Open, Aug. 5-15 at York University. We asked the former U.S. Open champion about her recent challenges, her renewed spirit, her fave T.O. pizza and much more.
How does it feel to finally be back playing at a high level?
It definitely feels good. Because looking back, I think I made a lot of progress over the past two and a half years. And it’s really nice to see my progress. And I really don’t think I’ve ever been as healthy physically or mentally as I am right now. So I’m very happy.
How challenging was it to be off that long with everything that happened?
Boy, it was very unexpected. I mean, COVID took me out for a couple of months and then another injury. Like a freakish injury. So those things make it super hard to stay positive. But you know, I had my bad days, I had my good days. But I felt like, at one point, it turned into more bad days than good. And I feel like that’s why it was super hard for me to get my rhythm back in 2021.
And that’s when you took more time off?
Yes, I still wasn’t happy. And so taking the six months off that I did was the true factor in how I’m feeling right now. I really took time to discover myself and other interests outside of tennis.
And what did you learn about yourself?
I learned to love myself more. I think that was a key factor in how I was feeling in 2021 and 2020. I felt like I was identifying myself too much with the sport. But now I have the mindset of using this as a platform into what I eventually want to do with my life.
You must be excited to be back in front of the hometown fans in Toronto.
Yeah, it’s amazing. Having the Rogers Cup be back in Toronto after three years, the anticipation was definitely building and it still is. I mean, I’d love for it to just start tomorrow. I grew up on those courts. I’m excited.
What goals are you setting for yourself now, with your new outlook?
Yeah, I definitely would love to win everything if I could, but I know that’s not always the case. So the things that I try not to focus on: the wins but just to go out there and do my best and give 100 per cent. If I do that, win or lose, I’m going to be happy no matter what. That’s been happening over the past couple of months. And just remembering that it’s a game of tennis at the end of the day.
What’s your daily ritual?
It’s my gratitude meditation exercise.
What was your first Toronto job?
What’s your favourite T.O. restaurant?
I really love Lee restaurant. And for pizza, North of Brooklyn. I’d never been there, but I saw the Barstool Sports review, so I went there. It’s probably the best pizza I’ve ever had anywhere. Like, it was so good.
Where is the first place you send visitors?
I love the Lake Shore. Like, the beautiful walks by the water are awesome. And there’s some stunning restaurants on that street.
Where is the best view in the city?
I like the view from the rooftop at Hotel X.
What’s your prized possession?
Does my dog Coco count? Let’s say that. Oh, and the U.S. Open trophy.
Where do you go to get away from it all?
Well I’d say going back home is always nice, and I also found a beautiful place on my time off in Costa Rica.
What one thing do you have multiple versions of?
Air Force 1s [shoes].
Who in Toronto would you most like to hang out with?
What living person do you most admire?
I’d say either Oprah or Joe Dispenza.
What talent would you most like to have?
A photographic memory. I read a lot of books and don’t remember half of what I read.
What is your greatest regret?
Not enjoying my U.S. Open win more than I did.
What is your personal motto?
As you seek, so shall you become.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being content with myself.