Bianca Andreescu celebrates with a Canadian flag over her headTHE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Bianca Andreescu is Canada’s Athlete of the Year

19-year-old tennis sensation Bianca Andreescu has won the 2019 Lou Marsh Trophy as the top Canadian athlete of the year.

Given what she accomplished in 2019, the result was entirely expected. In fact, the decision was unanimous with all 24 votes going to Andreescu. She even got some love from 2018 Lou Marsh winner Mikael Kingsbury.

“Wow, I’m so thankful for this award. I was not expecting it and to be the first tennis player to win is even more surreal,” Andreescu said in a Tennis Canada release. “None of my success this year would have been possible without the support from all of Canada. Canadian sports crushed it this year so there are definitely many other athletes who deserve a piece of this award as well – we all motivate each other to be better. I can’t wait for what 2020 will bring and am always proud to represent Canada at the highest level.”

READ: Bianca Andreescu’s rise to tennis stardom explained

Andreescu did not participate in any WTA Tour-level matches in 2018, entering the 2019 season ranked 152nd in the world.

Her first WTA action in 2019 came at the Auckland Open where she defeated three top-40 players, including world No. 3 Caroline Wozniacki, en route to a runner-up finish. Andreescu followed that up with a WTA 125K tournament win at the Oracle Challenger Series in Newport Beach, propelling the then 18-year-old to No. 68 in the world and Canada’s top-ranked player on the WTA Tour.

Bianca Andreescu returns the ball

Bianca Andreescu, of Team Canada, returns a shot to Angelique Kerber, of Germany, during the women’s final at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament Sunday, March 17, 2019, in Indian Wells, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Mississauga native’s true breakout came at the Indian Wells Open in March where she claimed her first WTA title. With wins over No. 6 Elina Svitolina and No. 8 Angelique Kerber, Andreescu became the first ever wild card to win at Indian Wells, and the first 18-year-old to win the event since Serena Williams accomplished the feat in 1999. The tournament win also propelled her to 24th overall, placing her firmly among the top tier on the WTA Tour.

READ: Bianca Andreescu is the BNP Paribas Open Champion

Bianca Andreescu, of Canada, smiles as she hugs her trophy

Bianca Andreescu, of Canada, smiles as she hugs her trophy after defeating Angelique Kerber, of Germany, in the women’s final at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament Sunday, March 17, 2019, in Indian Wells, Calif. Andreescu won 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

After dealing with a nagging shoulder injury for four months, Andreescu came back in August to play in the Rogers Cup in Toronto. She earned her first win in more than two months with a victory over fellow Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, which proved to be just the kickstart she needed. Andreescu then defeated No. 5 Kiki Bertens and No. 3 Karolina Pliskova in straight sets on her way to the final. Williams was forced to retire in the first set of the final due to injury, giving Andreescu her second Premier tournament victory, and her first win on home soil as she rocketed up to 15th overall. She also made history by becoming the first Canadian woman to win the Rogers Cup in half a century.

READ: Andreescu is the first Canadian woman in 50 years to win Rogers Cup title

The miracle run was not over yet, though, as Andreescu’s apex came at the U.S. Open. Entering the tournament with a 38-4 record on the season, she marched through a relatively easy draw to the semifinals. Facing off against No. 12 Belinda Bencic, Andreescu found herself down 2-5 in the second set when she displayed her trademark resilience. Andreescu fought back to win the match in straight sets, 7-6(3), 7-5, setting up a rematch in the final against Williams. This time the two played the match to completion, with Andreescu eventually prevailing 6-3, 7-5 to win her first Grand Slam title.

With the victory at the U.S. Open, Andreescu became the first Canadian tennis player to win a Grand Slam singles title and the first teenager to win a Grand Slam title since Maria Sharapova in 2006. It was the perfect way to cap off a historic, miraculous 2019 for Canada’s newest sports superstar.

READ: Andreescu wins US Open to become Canada’s first Grand Slam champion

Bianca Andreescu, of Canada, kisses the championship trophy

Bianca Andreescu, of Canada, kisses the championship trophy after defeating Serena Williams, of the United States, in the women’s singles final of the U.S. Open tennis championships Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The Lou Marsh Trophy was created by the Toronto Star in 1936 and is voted on annually by sports journalists from across Canada. As the 79th recipient of the prestigious award, Andreescu becomes the first tennis player to win the Lou Marsh.