| 14.6°C Dublin

Bouchard - 'It is absurd to think that I only do what I post on social media'

Close

Eugenie Bouchard’s frosty post-match interview at Wimbledon last year turned off many fans. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Eugenie Bouchard’s frosty post-match interview at Wimbledon last year turned off many fans. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Getty Images

Eugenie Bouchard’s frosty post-match interview at Wimbledon last year turned off many fans. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

It is hard to believe that five years have passed since Eugenie Bouchard, then a fearless 20-year-old, breezed her way into the Wimbledon final without dropping a set.

All glitz and glamour, the Canadian Bouchard is named after the Princess of York, and had a regal quality that fitted in perfectly with the lush lawns of SW19. She may have been hammered by Petra Kvitova in the final, but having already reached the semis in Melbourne and Paris that year, there was little doubt that we were looking at a future superstar.

The ensuing half-decade has not quite worked out that way, however - starting with one of the most bizarre incidents in tennis history. Having reached the US Open fourth round to get her stuttering 2015 season back on track, Bouchard slipped on a cleaning substance in the players' area of Flushing Meadows and knocked her head. The concussion she suffered restricted her to just one more match that year and, after two and a half years of legal wrangling, a jury found the United States Tennis Association 75 per cent to blame in February 2018.

Now 25 and ranked No 79, Bouchard prefers not to dwell on the incident - even though it coincided with a dip in form which caused her to plummet from a high of No 5 in 2014 to almost outside the top 200 by last year's Wimbledon - only a few months after she and the USTA had reached a settlement.

But despite the incident, Bouchard is not someone who elicits a lot of sympathy. Last year's Wimbledon is a handy reference point here as well, since it was after a qualifying match 12 months ago that she gave an interview so frosty that the summer heatwave seemed briefly to dissipate.

Her terse manner, coupled with a ubiquitous social media presence that typically involves provocative pictures away from the tennis court, has led to accusations of a lack of focus.

A Canadian talk show host gave an insight into her standing back home earlier this year when he quipped: "Milos Raonic is 15th in the world, Denis Shapovalov is 20th, Bianca Andreescu is 23rd . . . and Eugenie Bouchard is on Instagram."

Speaking to Bouchard on Friday at the Dubai Duty Free WTA Summer Party ahead of Wimbledon, I asked if this reputation bothered her. "I think everyone cares what people think about them so saying, 'I don't care about them at all' would be a lie," she told The Sunday Telegraph. "Obviously I do care, just like everybody else would. I also try to take it as a compliment because it means you've done something, stood up for something, created enough emotion for them to engage with you.

"Who are the most famous people in the world? They have the most haters in the world. Kim Kardashian, Donald Trump. It's part of life now so we have to accept it. You have to distance yourself from it and not take it too personally, and also realise that most of them would want to be in your spot."

Bouchard is also keen to stress that what we see on Instagram is far from her entire life, and that people should not think they know her based on it.

Even on Friday night, it was clear that reputations can be deceiving, as there was an obvious disconnect between the supposed prima donna who arrived late with her cousin Mimi Bouchard - a former regular on TV programme Made in Chelsea - with the more thoughtful presence when in conversation.

"That's the nature of social media," Bouchard says of people having a false impression of her. "The most important thing to reiterate is that social media is what I choose to show everyone. It's not an exact posting of my whole life. If people think I literally only do what I post then that's absurd. Social media is a highlights reel, so for me I love posting different things.

"Do people who work in offices post about their offices every day? No they don't. Do they work at their offices every day 24-7 like people tell me I should? No. So the biggest thing is that social media is not my entire life - it's what I choose to show you."

One element of her life that Bouchard chose to show us a couple of years ago was the rapport she claims to enjoy with her fans. After losing a bet with a university student over the Super Bowl result, Bouchard honoured the wager and took the fan to a basketball game as her date. The pair remain in touch, and Bouchard says: "The fans I've encountered know my values and morals."

It is perhaps unfair on Bouchard that she is talking about "values and morals" rather than forehands and backhands, but she is someone who has always generated interest far beyond the court.

On the tennis front, she explains that an abdominal injury kept her out between March and May, and so she does not have especially high expectations for Wimbledon, in which she starts with a first-round match against Slovenia's Tamara Zidansek, the 21-year-old world No 59, on Tuesday.

Back in 2014 it would have been hard to imagine that Bouchard would be coming into this year's event with such a lowly ranking and limited ambitions. But for those who might want to console or even scold her, Bouchard's message is clear: "Don't worry, my life is great. Worry about what you need to do, man, because I got all my priorities straight. Life is great."

Telegraph

Telegraph.co.uk