Eugenie Bouchard’s Olympics journey was short-lived, falling to Angelique Kerber in straight sets and then losing in doubles with partner Gabriela Dabrowski to Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic, both during the second round of tournament play. Neither loss can be blamed on any one specific hit, point or serve, but a sports analyst seems to know exactly what went wrong: the Canadian was too distracted by beauty, fashion and hair to get the gold.
Adam Kreek, a CBC sports commentator, insinuated on television that Bouchard, who’s currently ranked No. 42 in the world, doesn’t want to reach Serena Williams’ status. “When I saw her in the mix zone, she loved talking to the media. And when I look on her social media, she’s posting pictures of herself, she’s holding up the toothpaste and she’s trying out different hairstyles,” Kreek, a former Olympic rower, said.
A photo posted by Genie Bouchard (@geniebouchard) on Jul 31, 2016 at 2:23pm PDT
“Maybe she wants something different than to be a competitor,” he hypothesized. “For me as a sports fan, I’m not interested in watching that. But there are people out there that want to see someone, you know, pursuing beauty and fashion and this sort of thing. And maybe that’s, ‘I got into the tennis world and I want to leverage this.’”
It should be noted that Bouchard is only 22 and has been playing on the professional circuit since 2009. Posting selfies, maintaining an Instagram account, wearing cute outfits or applying makeup doesn’t take away from her talents. Other female athletes, including Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams, have made millions not just on tournament play but endorsement deals and business ventures. And the same can be said for their male counterparts: Novak Djokovic is sponsored by Uniqlo, Rafael Nadal models for Tommy Hilfiger, Roger Federer fronts campaigns for Rolex and even has an off-court fashion line for Nike, and more.
So why is it that only Bouchard, who did nothing to provoke this type of sexist commentary other than lose two matches at the highest level of her sport, gets targeted for being unfocused? Djokovic, the world No. 1, lost in the first round to Juan Martin Del Potro, but no one’s chiding his modeling work as the reason for doing so.
Leveraging celebrity, especially for women who still don’t make nearly as much as their male counterparts for taking home Grand Slam trophies, is just a part of the job these days and a way to make a living. This certainly isn’t something to be shamed for.