Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Eugénie Bouchard admits to suffering from an eating disorder.

Something which had been alluded to obliquely for a while now is brought out in the open by Eugénie herself: she's been struggling with an eating disorder.

During the past year or maybe even longer, we scratched our heads as to why 'Genie didn't take that next step forward after a few tourney wins and some Majors success, instead taking a few steps back.  We were puzzled at the escapades, the revolving door with her coaches, and her public giggling flirtation with the biggest jerk on the men's tour.  Her concussion suffered at the U.S. Open still to me doesn't make sense, the circumstances haven't been clarified properly, if only due to the raised eyebrows of insiders when they're discussing this.

So now she comes clean about a big problem that she says affected her performance.  I've wondered about what was 'wrong' with her.  Her game used to be about shotmaking, hitting balls right on the line and keeping her adversaries off-balance.  Did her eye desert her, cause her to make all those unforced errors, whereas before she was on target to an amazing degree?

When she admits that she's struggled with keeping her weight up, that jibes with the barest of whispers on that subject, a mention or two in passing that she had to stop trying to be a model and focus on tennis, on being an athlete.

And when those tasty morsels were tossed out by a frustrated analyst or other, it reminded me of Carling Basset, the '80's Canadian tennis star who faced the same accusations, that she was more interested in being thin and Hollywood-ready and a movie star, that her rich father removed much of the hunger that a world-class athlete needed to have to perform at a championship level.

Anna Kournikova faced the same type of criticism, that she was too slender to compete with the Steffi Grafs and Martina Navratilovas, that all she'd ever be was a glorified swimsuit model, but those who supported her denied that she suffered from a lack of focus.  They pointed to her rigourous physical training régime, her efforts in the gym and off the court to be the fittest athlete on tour, and that it wasn't her fault she wasn't as big and tall as a Steffi Graf or Venus Williams.  Ultimately, she was a scrappy élite tennis player who had a decent career, but was never able to generate the power with her serve and groundstrokes to compete with those athletes at the top of her sport.

So it's interesting to see Eugénie go through the same type of scrutiny, reportedly falling into the trap of the attractive tennis player who gets sucked up by the fame and the sideshow.  Good for her that she's identified it and is attacking it head on.  In conjunction with her recent decision to return to her original coach Nick Saviano, with who she had her initial success, maybe it's an indication that she can return to her previous form and challenge for tournament wins and Major titles again.

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