Bianca Andreescu Returns After Long Layoff

Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu played a match for the first time this year as she defeated Jule Niemeier on Tuesday in the first round of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

The 21-year-old from Mississauga, Ont was playing her first match since a second-round defeat to Anett Kontaveit at Indian Wells in October.

Andreescu announced in December that she was stepping away from the game to recover physically and mentally from a “challenging” two years.

She posted on Twitter that she was affected by “multiple weeks in isolation quarantining” after contracting COVID-19 and also her grandmother’s stay for several weeks in intensive care because of the virus.

Andreescu is ranked 121st in the world after several months away from the sport and was given a wild card entry for the tournament in Stuttgart.

She trailed Niemeier 5-3 in the first set but hit back to take it on a tie-break, and ultimately triumphed 7-6 (5), 6-3.

The Canadian faced six break-points, saving five of them and converted three of her own four break-point chances.

“A lot of days, I did not feel like myself, especially while I was training and/or playing matches. I felt like I was carrying the world on my shoulders,” Andreescu said. “I could not detach myself from everything that was going on off the court; was feeling the collective sadness and turmoil around and it took its toll on me.”

Andreescu rose to prominence in 2019 when she defeated her idol Serena Williams in the US Open final at the age of 19.

She will next face third seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sports new editor