PARIS — While her body recovered from a horrific back injury that can sometimes require an entire year of rehabilitation, Bianca Andreescu focused on her mind.

She investigated the spiritual side of her life, immersing herself in meditation. The 24-year-old Canadian went on retreats in Ontario and Costa Rica and attended a seminar in Miami. She studied jiu-jitsu meditation, a form of martial arts as a means of managing stress and anxiety.

“I always identified myself too much with the sport,” Andreescu said on Saturday at Roland Garros. “Being out of the sport kind of helps in that way. You can get too attached to the game of tennis. I feel like I’m very strong mentally.

“I think before I was focusing too much on the other opponent. Now I really want to tune into me.”

On Monday, she’ll play Sara Sorribes Tormo in a first-round match — Andreescu’s first Hologic WTA Tour appearance in nearly nine months.

Wearing a stylish burnt-sienna-colored sweatsuit, Andreescu met with a dozen reporters at the media center for an update. She turns 24 in mid-June but there is a world-weary quality in her dark brown eyes.

There are three titles on Andreescu’s resume: 2019 Indian Wells (at age of 18), Toronto and the US Open (19) — all big ones, all achieved in a brilliant burst of six months.

There haven’t been any since.

The unlikely story of those three incandescent performances has been followed by more than four years of frustration. It’s been a devastating string of injuries and heartbreak. And the struggle to deal with it all.

Grand Slams are the pinnacle of professional tennis. They are the most difficult to win — and they almost guarantee immortality (and perhaps a spot in the Hall of Fame). Andreescu is one of only 19 active players with a Grand Slam title. That’s a small, exclusive club.

When she’s healthy, Andreescu can beat anyone — she has a career-high No.4 ranking, a record of 189-91 (.675) and more than $9 million in prize money. Staying on the court, however, has been the issue.

At the end of that brilliant season, a left knee injury knocked her out of the WTA Finals in Shenzhen. That and the worldwide pandemic wiped out her 2020 season, ultimately keeping her sidelined for some 500 days.

Andreescu, as a result of a variety of injuries, played only 30 matches in 2021, 33 the following year and 31 in 2023. The last one was the worst — a stress-fracture in her back last August in Toronto. Not surprisingly, she’s become something of a medical expert.

“Because there was a crack in my back, we want to build a callous around the bone,” Andreescu said. “So basically, it’s very sturdy and won’t break again. That comes with good posture.”

As she said that, Andreescu straightened up in her chair, drawing laughter from the assembled media.

“You can’t always be in a controlled environment when you’re playing matches. That’s why the off-court [work] is so important, standing straight, not bending my back, not twisting to keep that callous strong. It can break at any moment if I don’t keep up with that.”

She said she’s been pain free for months, but rehab kept her off the court and in the gym until about three months ago. After her longest preseason training block ever, she was aiming to play this past week in Rabat, but a “blip” caused her to revise plans and come straight to Paris.

Not only does she have a new attitude, she has a new coach — her hitting partner of three years, J.T. Nishimura.

The expectations, Andreescu said, are always going to be there.

“I want to win, but I can definitely say now it didn’t work so well in the past for me,” she said. “I’m a very emotional person, and I hold a lot in. I never want to be a burden to people so I try not to speak my mind as often as I know I can. So I have to learn to be more open.

“At first, it was very frustrating, but I had to accept it. That’s kind of my mindset now: I can’t change the past. I’ve done that a lot, to go back in the past and think, what if? I’ve learned through everyday practice to accept what is and basically do what you can with what you have. That helps a lot.”


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