LONDON, July 4, 2014: She’s the new poster girl of women’s tennis, named after a British royal who mixes with Hollywood royalty. Tall, blonde Eugenie Bouchard, who will play her first Grand Slam final on Saturday, is photogenic, confident, poised and a just little controversial.
The 20-year-old’s emergence is perfectly timed as Bouchard takes to Centre Court 10 years after a 17-year-old Maria Sharapova exploded onto the scene with the 2004 Wimbledon title which propelled the Russian into the financial stratosphere.
“I see it two ways. I see it as a compliment to be compared to someone like Sharapova who has won five slams. You know, she’s a great champion. I see it in a positive light,” said Bouchard. “But also I’m my own person. I don’t want to be, you know, the next someone else. I want to be the first of me. I want to be my own individual person. That’s what I do. I’ll try to make my own history.”
Bouchard has been at the centre of widespread attention at the All England Club where she was junior champion in 2012.
1. With a celebrity-obsessed British media, she has patiently fielded questions over her royal links with her and twin sister Beatrice named after the children of Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II.
2. She has been swamped by marriage proposals — around 100 via Twitter at the last count — and has her own fanatical fan club, the Genie Army who merrily lob Teddy Bears onto the court when she wins, although not at Wimbledon where such joy is frowned upon.
3. She has a fondness for Canadian badboy Justin Bieber and has formed a close friendship with US actor Jim Parsons who plays science nerd and social misfit Dr Sheldon Cooper in hit TV comedy, The Big Bang Theory.
4. But despite her media-friendly profile, Bouchard also possesses a sharp edge to her character.
5. At a Fed Cup tie this year, she refused to shake hands with an opponent at the tournament draw, a gesture which led to her being labelled a “brat” by a host of users of social media.
6. She admits she does occasionally behave like a diva off the court but if she was to be portrayed in a negative light, she’d rather be regarded as a nerd.
7. “The Big Bang Theory is my favourite TV show. Jim Parsons’ character Sheldon is my favourite. He’s so nerdy. He’s so smart and set in his ways,” she explained.
8. “I do have a little bit of the nerd in me. When I was in school, my favourite class was math class. I was very determined to try to get 100% on all my math tests. I think that kind of self-discipline translates to tennis.”
9. Bouchard started playing tennis at the age of five, is based at coach Nick Saviano’s academy in Florida and won her first WTA title this year in Nuremburg.
10. Voted 2013 Newcomer of the Year, she justified that confidence by being the only player to reach the semi-finals of all three majors in 2014 adding more than a million dollars to her bank account in the process.
11. Now she has taken that extra step and victory on Saturday will undoubtedly make it impossible for her to shrug off the tag as the “new Sharapova”.