CNN  — 

Tennis star Bianca Andreescu says she hopes to one day surpass the greatest players of all-time as she prepares to defend her title at this year’s US Open.

The 20-year-old became Canada’s first-ever grand slam singles champion when she defeated Serena Williams in straight sets at Flushing Meadows last year but the youngster is far from content with her achievements to date.

Her aim is simple: To be the best in the world and to break records in the process.

“I want to surpass Serena [Williams] and her wins. Maybe even Chrissy Evert, who knows? Margaret Court,” she told CNN Sport.

“I like to dream big; it gives me more motivation to actually step on the court and continue doing what I’m doing.”

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Andreescu celebrates during the US Open in 2019.

On being the best

The youngster has quite some way to go before reaching the levels of Evert, Williams and Court – who have 18, 23 and 24 titles respectively – but her US Open win last year showed she’s on the right track.

The pressure that follows such a triumph sits comfortably on such young shoulders. After all, as she says, she delivers her best under pressure.

“Everything I do, I always give 150% and I always want to be the best at it,” she said. “For my tennis career I put in so much effort and sacrificed a lot, so I want to be the best.

“Surpassing those players would make me the best but whatever God has in store for me.”

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Andreescu reacts after beating Serena Williams in the US Open final.

Return of tennis

Like the rest of the tour, Andreescu has been out of action for a number of weeks with tennis postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

However, with restrictions beginning to ease across North America, this year’s US Open is scheduled to begin on August 31, and the Canadian is desperate to defend her title.

Many high-profile players have raised concerns about staging the event so soon but Andreescu is confident the tournament will be safe behind closed doors.

“I actually didn’t think tennis would come back so soon just because it’s such an international sport but, honestly, I’m just super happy to go back there and hopefully defend my title,” she said.

“I know everyone involved is going to do their best to keep everyone as safe as possible. Just looking at all the other sports, I think it’s time for tennis to come back.”

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US Open 2020

Although tennis will be back, it promises to look very different.

Perhaps the biggest change will be the lack of spectators in the stands, something which Andreescu knows will take some getting used to.

Fans played a huge part in her winning her maiden grand slam in 2019, with the majority of the crowd supporting Williams on the night.

As it turned out, the partisan reception was all the motivation she needed.

“Playing in front of the crowd just brings the hype into everything. I would say I perform really good under pressure so I felt the crowd gave me a push,” she said, adding that this year’s tournament will feel very different.

“There will definitely be people watching at home so it would be good to keep that in the back of our minds.”

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Andreescu is looking forward to defending her US Open title this year.

Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that “extraordinary precautions” would be in place to ensure safety at the tournament, including “robust testing, additional cleaning, extra locker room space, and dedicated housing and transportation.”

However, ensuring families were able to travel with players throughout the entirety of the tournament was a major factor in players agreeing to the plans, according to WTA President Micky Lawler.

“Coming over would have been a big commitment because you’re here for three to four weeks. So being here with just one person was a non-starter for people with families, so it ended up in a better place for those players that expressed concerns,” Lawler told CNN Sport.

The decision to permit more people in a player’s entourage appeared to satisfy the needs of star players such as Williams, who has now stated her intention to participate.

Her inclusion, along with defending champion Andreescu, was a huge boost to organizers.

“She [Williams] is an iconic athlete beyond tennis. Her voice carries tremendous influence, so to get an endorsement from Serena was very important, it was huge,” added Lawler, saying the WTA would continue working closely with its medical partners to ensure players safety.

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‘Balancing act’

All being well, Lawler hopes the US Open will be a symbol of hope for tennis but admits the current schedule is far from perfect.

Initial plans for the tournament had no space for mixed doubles, wheelchair tennis or the junior competition, but it appears the United States Tennis Association (USTA) may reassess the inclusion of wheelchair tennis after heavy criticism.

“This is a really difficult balancing act and the easiest thing would have been to say ‘let’s just call it quits and forget about 2020’,” she said.

“But that would have come at a massive cost to everyone – players, tournaments and the whole sport.

“So kudos to the USTA for working this hard to come up with a plan that offers a great opportunity to a lot of people. Is it a perfect plan? Absolutely not.”