Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu wasn’t born when Serena Williams won her first Grand Slam title 20 years ago.
On Saturday, however, the 19-year-old will be the only thing standing between Williams and a 24th Grand Slam championship when the two face off in the final of the U.S. Open.
Andreescu completed her remarkable and improbable run into the final by defeating Belinda Bencic, 7-6 (3), 7-5, in the semifinals Thursday night.
“It’s just surreal. I don’t know what to say,” Andreescu told the crowd afterward. “It’s a dream come true playing Serena Williams in the finals of the U.S. Open. It’s crazy. It’s crazy.
“If someone told me a year ago that I would be in the finals of the U.S. Open this year, I would have told them they were crazy.”
Andreescu had never even played in a main draw match in the U.S. Open before this year. She ended last season ranked No. 178 but is now about to break into the top 10.
She has recent and notable experience playing Williams. Andreescu won the Rogers Cup in Toronto, her hometown, in early August. She was the victor in tthe final after Williams retired with a back injury when she was trailing 3-1.
Against the 22-year-old Bencic, Andreescu showed the composure of someone a decade older.
In the first set, Andreescu overcame a set point while trailing 5-4. She then rallied to win the first five points of the tiebreaker and then take the set.
Andreescu, the No. 15 seed, then came back from being down 5-2 in the second set to win the last five games.
Andreescu is the second women’s Grand Slam finalist from Canada with the only other being Eugenie Bouchard at Wimbledon in 2015. She will attempt to become the first teen Grand Slam champion since Maria Sharapova won in 2006.