Eugenie Bouchard insists she has no regrets over speaking out against Maria Sharapova and believes she is well supported by the tennis community ‘who have been fair to the sport’. The Canadian slammed her Russian counterpart ahead of her return from a 15-month doping ban after testing positive for meldonium during the 2016 Australian Open.
In just the second event upon Sharapova’s comeback at the Madrid Open, the pair faced each other in a fiery clash – in which Bouchard came out on top – with the 23-year-old having branded the five-time Grand Slam champion a ‘cheater’ in the build-up to the contest.
And the former Wimbledon finalist has not changed her position in the following months. When asked by Sportsnet if she had any regrets over making the comments, she replied: ‘No, of course not! I am [comfortable with what I said]. I was asked a question and I couldn’t answer it not honestly so for me, that’s how I try to be.’ Bouchard also maintains she is well backed by others on the WTA Tour and believes others were ‘afraid to speak up’.
‘There were a lot [of messages] that day and I really felt a lot of support within the tennis community as well,’ she added. ‘Players, coaches, agents people from around the world who weren’t necessarily there who were just saying I’m glad you said that, I support you and I agree with you and I just realised a lot of people were maybe afraid to speak up. That’s how I am, so.’
The match between the pair was intense, with Bouchard emerging triumphant after two hours and 51 minutes, winning 7-5 2-6 6-4. And the Canadian believes the extra motivation to down the former world No. 1 allowed her to secure the win.
‘I was on the court and I was motivated and obviously there all of the off-court controversy which made it into a very tense match. And I went out, once I was on the court I put everything else to the side and I just wanted to play as well as I could. I definitely had a bit of extra motivation to kind of do it for all of us who have been fair to the sport and who have played the sport in the true way it’s meant to be played.’