Eugenie Bouchard appeared eager to give-up the title of being Canada’s best female tennis player following a demoralizing defeat at the Rogers Cup in Toronto on Tuesday.
Once thought to be the game’s next star, the 23-year-old from Westmount, Que., has plummeted from in the WTA rankings since reaching a career-high No. 5 in 2014 to her current spot at No. 70.
Her latest setback came in the main draw — a first-round straight-sets defeat to a 21-year-old qualifier from Croatia.
Following the loss, Bouchard described herself as being “a bit low in confidence” after failing to reach the second round in her last six tournaments.
The frustration appeared to boil over in her post-match media conference Tuesday when she declared her willingness to pass the torch of being the country’s favourite female tennis star to fellow Canadian Bianca Andreescu, who reached the quarter-finals of a tournament in Washington, D.C. last week.
“I think she’s a good player,” Bouchard said. “I practiced with her a little bit last week in D.C., and I think she had a good run last week. So, you know, someone else can carry the burden of Canada.”
Bouchard became a darling of tennis fans across Canada and abroad in 2014 when she reached the semifinals of back-to-back Grand Slams, which were followed up by an appearance in the Wimbledon final loss to Petra Kvitová.
Since then she has been signed multimillion-dollar endorsement deals with major brands like Nike, Rolex and Usana. She’s also appeared in Sports Illustrated’s latest swimsuit issue and has generated more than three million followers across social media.
Critics have pointed to those as distractions and reasons for her decreasing success on the court, something Bouchard addressed with Australia’s Fairfax Media in January.
“You have to make the most of your life,” Bouchard said. “I don’t want to be the type to sit back and not do things and in 10 years look back and regret it. If my career were to end tomorrow it would have all been worth it.”
Bouchard was pressed following her Rogers Cup exit if she’d prefer fans and media ease up on her, noting she’s still young enough to turn her career around. Bouchard replied “yes and no.”
“I mean, I guess I’m relatively young, but I feel old in a way,” she said. “You know, I’ve been on tour a bunch of years already. And I think it’s important to feel the pressure of time a little bit, to get into action and not just relax and let years go by. That would be the worst thing I could do.
“But if the media doesn’t put pressure on me, I mean, that would be nice.”