Chennai, India – Seventeen months is a long time in a lifetime. It is a longer period in an athlete’s career as fortunes change overnight and new competitors wait in the wings on a regular basis. But that’s how long it was for Eugenie Bouchard, who was out of the tour from March 2021 to August 2022 with a shoulder injury that later required surgery.
To give you some perspective, when Bouchard played her last tournament before returning to the Tour last month, Ons Jabeur, currently number two in the world on the Hologic WTA Tour, ranked No. 30, and Carlos Alcaraz, the New World No. 1 on the ATP Tour, was Ranked No. 132. While some have decided to quit, for the tennis-loving Bouchard, quitting was never an option, although the lengthy, grueling rehab process and going back were a severe test of her patience.
“It was a very long process, as she underwent surgery and rehab,” said the 2014 Wimbledon runner-up after her first-round victory over Joanne Zuger in Chennai, where she is competing in the new WTA 250 event in the city. I’ve never had to do anything like this in my career before, every athlete at some point in their career has a bad injury and I got to the age of 27 without surgery and then had two.
“It never occurred to me to stop. I always want to stop on my own terms and don’t want to be forced to stop due to an injury. Now I am at the beginning of my journey back and I hope to have many more years of this.”
The 28-year-old’s comeback brought her to the hot and humid city of Chennai this week where she has now won two matches to reach the quarter-finals. She will face 2020 French Open semi-finalist Nadia Podroska. It is no surprise that Bouchard is grateful to be in the position.
“I’m so proud of myself, for all the work it took to get here,” Bouchard said. “I am happy that I can show myself that I can still do this and also get a little confidence from winning matches. I just want to keep going, one game at a time, one championship at a time and enjoy the trip back.”
Most players in this southern Indian city found it difficult to deal with the heat and humidity. After winning the second round on domestic wild card Karman Kaur Thande, Prakash told Amritraj during her court interview that she was sweating from her shoes.
But facing difficult circumstances and adversity is not something the former No. 5 in the world dreads. In fact, she loves a good challenge and has signed up for this week’s doubles draw with Yanina Wickmayer to get more matches under her belt. “I know what I got into when I decided to become a professional tennis player,” she said. “Difficult circumstances are part of it. I like to challenge myself and I like to deal with adversity.”
No wonder then that Bouchard is a fan of another tennis star who was always ready to put up a good fight – American tennis legend Jimmy Connors, someone she worked with in the past and is now calling a friend.
Bouchard said: “I love Jimmy. I loved him as a player. I love how he had such a great personality and personality and was there. I see a little of that in myself.
“I first contacted him in 2015 and he helped me before the US Open. We have been in touch ever since.”
Despite her time away and her slide in the world rankings, Bouchard is still a huge draw among tennis fans around the world with over 2.3 million followers on social media, who missed her sorely during her layoff. The Canadian admits she missed out on the sport, too.
She said, “I haven’t gone a year without playing tennis since I was five. It’s hard to be forced not to do what you love. I’ve been able to do some great off-court projects like commentary and other things. But my favorite thing is to play tennis so I’m Really happy to be back.”
As are the millions of her fans, known as GenieArmy, who will be rooting for her as she plans her comeback through the world tour in the coming months.