Her historic victory at the 2023 U.S. Open was a long time coming for Gabriela Dabrowski who has been the face of Canadian doubles tennis for the better part of the past decade.
The 31-year-old is now a three-time Major champion after becoming the first Canadian to capture a Grand Slam title in women’s doubles at Flushing Meadows in New York. She had won a pair of mixed doubles crowns previously, at Roland-Garros in 2017 and the Australian Open in 2018, but the U.S. Open triumph, alongside partner Erin Routliffe, was the one she really wanted.
“It’s incredibly special and it’s even more special to do it beside someone who is at heart and location-wise a fellow Canadian. I know she represents New Zealand, but to do it with a Canadian is amazing for our country, it’s amazing to highlight the level the tennis that we’ve been playing,” Dabrowski said on-court after the final.
Routliffe was born in New Zealand and now represents her country of birth, but she grew up in Caledon, Ontario and spent her formative years developing her game at Tennis Canada’s National Tennis Centre presented by Rogers in Montreal.
Given her humble, low-key nature, Dabrowski prefers to deflect the spotlight to instead focus on uplifting others and promoting the growth of the doubles discipline. Still, her journey to becoming an inspirational figure and one of the most accomplished Canadian tennis players of all time speaks for itself.
The Ottawa native was identified as a top prospect early on and she began playing professional tournaments on the ITF World Tennis Tour in 2006 when she was just 14 years old. On the junior circuit, she took home top honours at the prestigious Orange Bowl in 2009 and reached a career-high ranking of no. 5. She achieved her best WTA singles ranking of no. 164 in 2014 before using her impressive skill set to become a doubles specialist, a decision that changed the course of her career for the better.
Quite the Doubles Resumé
Her U.S. Open triumph was Dabrowski’s 14th WTA doubles title and it allowed her to jump back into the Top 10 at no. 9 on the WTA doubles rankings which is five off her career-high of no. 4. She was rewarded for her stellar 2022 season, which included a trio of trophies, with her first appearance at the WTA Finals in Forth Worth, Texas.
“I’ve watched Gaby for years and obviously known her for a very long time and idolized her,” Routliffe explained. “She has been flying the Canadian flag for the doubles for a long time now. I’ve always really liked her game and I thought that we would be good together.”
Beyond the accolades and the success, Dabrowski is a proud Canadian and never misses an opportunity to don her country’s colours on the international scene. She’s been a stalwart on the Billie Jean King Cup team since 2013 and has represented Canada at the last two Summer Olympics in Rio and Tokyo.
While she may not be as decorated as the legendary Daniel Nestor, Dabrowski has forged her own unique path toward creating a piece of Canadian tennis history which is fitting because she wouldn’t want it any other way and it’s hard to imagine anyone more deserving of the praise that she usually reserves for others.