After Bianca: Quebec's Melodie Collard aims for tennis stardom
TORONTO -- In the shadow of Arthur Ashe Stadium, one of Canada’s rising tennis stars was already making a name for herself at the U.S. Open earlier this month.
Sixteen-year-old Melodie Collard was just a few courts away on Sept. 5 as 19-year-old tennis champ Bianca Andreescu aced her way into the finals of the U.S. Open. Over on Court 11 that day, Collard and doubles partner Hong Yi Cody Wong defeated an American duo to advance to the semi-finals in the Junior Grand Slam tournament.
“That experience was amazing, to actually play really close to pro players,” Collard told CTV News Montreal.
That was as far as Collard would go in the U.S. Open, but Andreescu has a few years on the Gatineau teen. Born in 2003, the 16 year old hasn’t qualified for the women’s tournament yet. But it wasn’t long ago that Andreescu played at the same level. Collard, who also competed in singles, finds that fact motivating.
“Bianca went through the same tournament as I did, and she was playing Junior Grand Slam like two years ago,” she said.
Watching Andreescu’s performance at the tournament wasn’t just inspiring, it was in part an education for Collard who respected Andreescu’s sense of calm during play.
“She’s really confident when she plays. She knows she has the game and she knows that she can find a solution. That’s what makes her so strong,” she said.
The meteoric rise of her fellow Canadian from little known Ontario teen to a sports star who gets DMs from rapper Drake has made Collard think about her own potential.
“A lot of people are watching what I’m doing and following me. I want to be the best player I can be and to be the best in the world,” she said. “For sure, Bianca really inspired me to do that. She believed in her dream and it happened.”