Mississauga's Bianca Andreescu "She The North" Rally might not have had the turnout that was expected, but it was apparent that the crowd was excited to see the young tennis star. Appearing on stage at the beginning of the night were several high profile figures, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (who took the opportunity to dance, even if his moves were not that great), Toronto mayor John Tory, and Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie.
Even one of Andreescu's elementary school teachers was there. And while the crowd was not as big as some estimates had thought, there was still a lot of energy.
Crombie was the first to speak, starting her time at the podium with a "She The North!" chant. "Bianca Andreescu, you are a hometown girl, but you are Canada's champion and we are so proud of you," Crombie said. She also gave a shoutout to Bianca's parents (and her dog, Coco, of course). Former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion was also in attendance, and she managed to get a bigger cheer than the Prime Minister. "Hazel's just a little more popular in this town, Mr. Prime Minister," Crombie said.
Justin Trudeau was next. He congratulated Andreescu and highlighted how she is an inspiration to young Canadians. "She is the embodiment of the fact that young people are not the leaders of tomorrow, they are the leaders of today," Trudeau said. He paid thanks to Andreescu's parents (and Coco, again, of course).
Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Sport, was at the rally representing Doug Ford. She wanted to send a message to the young athletes in the crowd. "One of the most defining characteristics of the best athlete ever is not raw talent, it is the way they are coached and how they conduct themselves," Macleod said, pointing to Andreescu as a shining example. However, MacLeod did not exactly receive a warm welcome, with a portion of the crowd booing her.
John Tory took the podium next. He opened with a solid joke about Toronto being a small suburb of Mississauga. "She was confident, but not arrogant," Tory said, pointing out Andreescu's humble nature (she silently stood to the side at her own rally). Tory also claimed Sept. 16 Bianca Andreescu Day in Toronto. "Bianca if you want to ride the subway for free, you can, but no one else can," Tory joked.
Jennifer Bishop, chairperson of Tennis Canada, praised Bianca for her "grace, humility, and true Canadian sportsmanship," before wishing her luck in Beijing.
Drake may not have been in attendance, but he did send a care package: a tote bag filled with clothes and merch, probably some high quality stuff. Crombie said that "Drizzy" (yes, she called him Drizzy) himself made a phone call this morning to say he couldn't make it.
Crombie and Andreescu then unveiled the street sign for Andreescu Way, which had been previously promised by Mississauga's mayor. Shortly afterward, Andreescu was given the key to the city.
Finally, Andreescu took the podium herself to say a few words. "My goal today was not to trip in these shoes and not mess up this speech," she began. "I never thought I would have my own parade let alone the key to the city and a street named after me."
"I did not get here alone," Andreescu said, thanking her team, her family, friends, and Tennis Canada. "I love you!" She then paid special thanks to Trudeau, Crombie, and Tory for all of their support and for "continuing to make Canada such an amazing country." Following a short "Bianca" chant, Andreescu thanked the crowd and the fans. "I'm truly, truly blessed and hopefully you guys can continue on supporting me for many years to come."
"I am very humbled to celebrate this moment with all of you here today and everyone at home," Andreescu said. "This is only the beginning."