LONDON – The second-round loss wasn’t surprising, yet 17 reporters crammed into a small room to hear from 2014 Wimbledon finalist Genie Bouchard.
“Well, it’s nice to see you all,” she said, inciting laugher. “I think we should have been in a bigger room. This is kinda weird. “If you guys care about me then that’s cool.”
Although interest in Bouchard’s career hasn’t waned, there’s a reason the main interview suite wasn’t reserved for her appearance on Thursday after a 6-4, 7-5 defeat to 17th seed Ashleigh Barty.
Bouchard needed to play in a qualifying tournament just to reach the main draw at the All England Club. Her singles ranking is 188, a far cry from when she was the world’s No. 7 player after her runner-up placing four years ago. (In fact, her doubles ranking his better now at 130.)
She’s only 24 but seems miles away from her peak form. And appears to know it, too.
Bouchard wasn’t making proclamations like she once did about winning tournaments. Now it’s about getting into them.
That doesn’t mean she’s giving up, though.
“It’s the middle of my career, maybe,” she said. “I don’t know how to define it. It’s definitely not the end of my career like some people think it is. I’m here to stay, like it or not.”
She’s been working with coach Robert Lansdorp since April – “He really believes in me and that helps me believe in myself” – to improve all of her strokes, she said. Lansdorp, 80, is known as a renowned but gruff coach who’s worked with the likes of Maria Sharapova, Tracy Austin and Pete Sampras.
Having missed two months before the French Open with an abdominal injury, Bouchard believes qualifying for Wimbledon and advancing to Round 2 is an early sign of process.
“I know I have so much I need to work on,” she said. “You can practise all you want. It’s nothing like real matches. I’m trying to focus on doing my job and play.”
Of course, when it comes to Bouchard there’s more to discuss than her play on the court.
She was questioned about her tweet following her first-round match where she noted a ball boy’s fly was hanging low.
One of the ballboys on my court today had his fly unzipped. Every time he gave me balls to serve I couldn’t help staring at it #wimbledon
— Genie Bouchard (@geniebouchard) July 3, 2018
The post sparked some backlash in the tennis press and she was asked Thursday if she felt the comments were inappropriate. The questioner suggested a male player doing the same thing towards a female ball girl would have faced more public scorn.
“I just post what I experience and think and see,” she said. “I noticed it on the court. There was no way you could not see it. I thought it was funny. It happens to everyone.”
Bouchard is used to criticism coming her way. In terms of results, she wasn’t reached the fourth round at a Grand Slam since the 2015 US Open – a tournament that ended with her withdrawing due to a concussion sustained from a locker room fall. (Bouchard won her lawsuit against the United States Tennis Association in February after the USTA was found mostly liable.)
Bouchard insists she isn’t concerned about proving anyone wrong and is instead focusing on tennis. In that regard, “there’s a long way to go.”
Right now, a successful season to her would be merely improving – and getting out of the small interview room.
“Getting my ranking up. Qualies are a grind,” she said. “I don’t wanna put a number. I have no idea. I can’t predict the future. Play matches and get top-ranked matches.
“Hopefully pull out some wins and get back to a ranking close to what it should be.”