Wimbledon 2014: Eugenie Bouchard wins over the fans despite her final defeat
Canadian reveals she felt humbled by the 'special support from the crowd'
Charlotte Philby is a writer at The Independent with a weekly column on motherhood in The Independent Magazine. She was shortlisted for the 2013 Cudlipp award for excellence in popular journalism for her undercover investigative work, and writes for various cultural magazines.
Saturday 05 July 2014
It had looked so promising for Eugenie Bouchard, the young Canadian hopeful who rose from relative obscurity to become one of the greatest draws at this year's Wimbledon tournament.
But as the sun disappeared behind grey clouds on centre court, so too did the dreams of the steely-gazed 20-year-old who lost out to her Czech rival Petra Kvitova in the women's finals.
Kvitova, 24, a former Wimbledon champion who is currently ranked world No 4, threw herself to the ground in jubilation after trouncing her opponent in a match watched on from the Royal box by Bouchard's namesake Princess Eugenie, Keira Knightley and last year's winner Marion Bartoli.
As she finally broke a smile, Kvitoka's expression was in stark contrast to her pained frown as she received a pep talk from her trainer at the practice courts earlier in the day, while Bouchard warmed up just metres away, looking confident and positively cheery.
Bouchard's game face had gone though as the player named after the British Princess gave her post-match press conference. “Sometimes your opponent just plays better than you, and that's what happened today.
“I am always hard on myself, maybe a bit too hard,” she said, reflecting on the moment she went to wait in the engraver's room between leaving court when the match finished, and going back to face the crowd. “I sat down put on my jacket... wished one day they would be writing my name.”
It was “crazy” to see the Royals turn out for her big game, added Bouchard, whose sister is named Beatrice and brother, Will, both after members of the monarchy: “I'm very happy that she came, I'm just disappointed I couldn't have put on a better show for her.”
Once she had lay down on her sofa for a week back home in Montreal, Boucher said she would be back to training.
Dressed in a red Canada T-shirt, Jeremy Greenberg, 27, from Toronto, was undeterred after watching the match: “I am totally in love with Eugenie. She is a national hero.”
After rising from ranking number 105 to number seven over the course of the match, Bouchard became the undoubted star of the women's tournament. She said she felt “humbled” by the “special support from the crowd” during the final, whose cries could be hear above the those of the court attendants who spent much of the day pulling rain covers back and forth over the courts as bursts of rain and sunshine kept revellers at Wimbledon on their toes.
As well as her formidable game and - before today, at least - an unshakable sense of self-belief, the determined young player also drew attention off-court for a public spat with former best friend Laura Robson, after telling a press conference on Friday that she had no friends on tour.
While the British player was absence at this year's tournament due to injury, Bouchard confirmed their friendship was over. She added: “I don't think the tennis tour is the place to have friends. For me it's all competition”.
Speculation was rife over the reason for the cooling of a close bond between the pair who famously made a Gangnam Style tribute video together in 2012, after Bouchard told a press conference: “I'm sure you guys can figure that one”.
Fingers pointed to a potential conflict over Nick Saviano, who Robson appointed as her coach last autumn while he was already working with Bouchard. At a post-match conference the Canadian said she had spoken to her coach since her defeat: “He said he was very proud of me, today and through the whole tournament.”
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