Canadian women’s tennis player Eugenie Bouchard beat Russian Maria Sharapova at the Madrid Open yesterday 7-5, 2-6, 6-4. More than a tennis match, the Round Of 32 encounter was made all the more relevant in light of Bouchard’s comments following her opponent’s return to the sport after testing positive for a banned substance.
Sharapova’s return to competition in April after receiving a 15-month suspension was met with criticism from the Canadian, who thought Sharapova should be banned for life from the sport.
“I definitely had some extra motivation going into today,” Bouchard said, following Monday’s match. “I was actually quite inspired before the match because I had a lot of players coming up to me privately wishing me good luck, players I don’t normally speak to, getting a lot of texts from people in the tennis world that were just rooting for me. So I wanted to do it for myself, but also all these people. I really felt support.
“It showed me that most people have my opinion, and they were just maybe scared to speak out.”
She took to Twitter to celebrate the occasion with a short but emphatically worded tweet.
Bouchard’s original comments stem from an interview conducted shortly after Sharapova’s ban expired. She thought the Russian got off too lightly, believing that “a cheater” should face harsher punishment.
“I don’t think that’s right,” said Bouchard of Sharapova’s return to the court after such a brief suspension.
“She’s a cheater and so, to me, I don’t think a cheater in any sport should be allowed to play that sport again,” she added.
“It’s so unfair to all of the players that do it the right way and are true,” noted Bouchard. “I think from the WTA it sends the wrong message to young kids: Cheat and we’ll welcome you back with open arms. I don’t think that’s right. [She’s] definitely not someone I can say I look up to anymore, because this has definitely ruined it for me a little bit.”