Eugenie “Genie” Bouchard is making waves and a parched WTA is happy getting drenched in a celebration wet with anticipation and promise. The 22-year-old Canadian showed immense resolve to survive a tough opening set loss to Casey Dellacqua as she carved her way into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.
The tennis world has been unanimous in their praise for the bold and talented girl from Westmount in Quebec, but what has astounded experts is the tenacity and composure of the Canadian teenager. As she prepares for her maiden Grand Slam quarter-finals, due on Tuesday, here are 10 interesting facts about the emerging star.
1. Attitude: Eager to get on with it, Bouchard demanded action from the very moment she stepped on court. As a little girl, she was put in a kids tennis clinic on Nun’s Island when she was just five. The clinic would start with some fun and games, involving props such as hoola hoops and balloons just to get the kids involved. While her fellow kids enjoyed the routine, Genie was itching to get her racquet swinging at the tennis balls.
“All of the kids, including my sister, loved the games, except me. I hated them, because I just wanted to hit more balls and actually play tennis,” Bouchard told the Globe and Mail last year. “My parents were like, ‘Oh, she really wants to play tennis!’ So eventually, I started playing three times a week, then took private lessons and played my first tournament when I was eight. I loved it right away.”
2. Wimbledon Champion, already: Genie got her first real taste of big stage success as a junior. Still only 17, she had a brilliantly memorable fortnight at Wimbledon in 2012 where she ended up with a double – winning both the girls singles and doubles titles. Seeded five, she defeated the third seed Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-2 to clinch the title. In doing so, she became the first Canadian ever, junior or professional, to win a Grand Slam title in singles.
Incidentally she also won the doubles title for the second year running, partnering the American Taylor Townsend (another American Grace Min was her partner in 2011), after beating Belinda Bencic and Ana Konjuh 6–4, 6–3 in the final. She has already dreamt about the real deal and wishes to go on and capture the Ladies title at the coveted tournament.
3. Highest ranked teenager: In a game that has turned ever more physical since the turn of the millenium, it is unsurprising yet curious to note that Eugenie is among just a few teenage players among the elite of the WTA. Not too long ago, a certain Martina Hingis had already collected five Grand Slam titles by the time she was done being a teenager. Times have changed and now there are only seven of their tribe in the top 100 of women’s tennis. The Canadian is currently the highest ranked teenager at 31st in the world and set to scale higher peaks on the strength of her performances at the Australian Open.
4. Her family: The Bouchard family made home in an upscale Montreal suburb, with the former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney living on the same street. Her parents Julie and Mike had each of their four kids dabble in tennis, but it was Eugenie who took an active interest in the sport.
The 19-year-old has a fraternal twin, Beatrice, and two younger siblings – sister Charlotte and a brother called William. The family moved to Florida for a few years to help Eugenie train with Nick Saviano, but moved back to Montreal once Tennis Canada assigned an exclusive trainer, Roberto Brogin, to the promising young woman. Her father Mike is an investment banker, but he will be hard pressed to find a better investment than the one he has made in his talented daughter.
5. Her best friend: She considers fellow player Laura Robson among the best of her friends. The two of them have known each other for nearly 10 years and share a special bond. In fact, Eugenie wished that she made no more friends on the tour since it was emotionally hard to deal with a victory over Robson last year. The two go out for dinner almost every night when they are at the same tournament and apparently have a very strong friendship. The player and her mother lived at Robson’s home last year when they were out there to play Wimbledon.