February 26, 2024

Open Court


Tennis Birthdays: Genie Bouchard Edition

It’s a big, big day for Canada’s tennis sweetheart.

She’s no longer a teenager.

Eugenie Bouchard (CAN), 20

Montreal’s Genie Bouchard (and her twin sister Beatrice) leave their adolescence behind forever today.

This right here, is adorable.

And those latter teenage years have been pretty good.

As she turned 18, Bouchard was considered a top prospect rolling along nicely. But there were a lot of coaching changes, and she seemed to be stagnating a bit because even though many of her peers were already mostly full-time pros (like Russians Putintseva and Kromacheva, both of whom she lost to) and leaving the door open to pick off some junior Slams, it wasn’t happening.

And then, a few months later, Bouchard grabbed both the singles and doubles titles at the Wimbledon junior event.And so it began …

Almost like lightning, she’s an Australian Open semifinalist, and a top 20 player, and the No. 2 seed this week in Acapulco having photo shoots all over the place. It’s all happening.


She also picked up an impressive fan club in Australia, the Genie Army, who supported her from the get-go against a Chinese wild card out on Court 15, all the way to primo seats inside Rod Laver for her semifinal against eventual champion Li Na. (Thanks to the Genie Army for use of the feature pic).

Two years ago, Bouchard also left a long association with adidas, and chose to go with Nike. She wears the Maria Sharapova line, and it’s a big company for a potentially big career. Agent Sam Duvall says it’s the company that can most maximize her potential even though it already boasts the two most famous female tennis players on the planet in Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.

Bouchard spent time on her birthday eve with fellow Nike future star Grigor Dimitrov at the joint event in Acapulco, as they did a publicity thing playing on a floating tennis court, and also took a helicopter ride.

That’s not a half-bad way to spend your birthday eve (but hands off; all must remain kosher in the Nike family). On her birthday night, Bouchard will play the marquee centre court match at the Acapulco event against Shahar Pe’er.

Flavia Pennetta (ITA), 32

Pennetta reached the top 10 relatively late in her career, by today’s standards, with a combination of fitness, consistency, and playing a whole lot of tournaments.

Even when she’s winning easily, she always looks like she’s THIS close to losing it. But she very rarely does.


Whoever beats her basically has to overpower her, because she doesn’t go away on her own and is a very smart tennis player.

But injuries hit, a wrist that required surgery late in 2012 and cost her six months. And you wondered if she was pretty PennettaDulkomuch done, looking at BFF and former doubles partner Gisela Dulko’s mommy track with envy.

But no; the competitor in her just hung in there. At Wimbledon last year, she was out of the top 150 and made the fourth round. And she made her first Grand Slam semifinal at the U.S. Open.

Pennetta also has been No. 1 in doubles, with her now-retired partner Dulko of Argentina. Except in 2012, when Dulko left her to play with countrywoman Paola Suarez in the hopes of doing something at the London Olympic Games. And then, Dulko retired and had a baby.

Lately, Pennetta has been playing with young Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic.

She got to the quarterfinals in Australia, losing to eventual champion Li Na. And she qualified and got to the quarterfinals in Dubai, beating Agnieszka Radwanska and losing to eventual champ Venus Williams. She started the season ranked No. 29; she up to No. 21.

A few years ago, Pennetta published a memoir in Italian, which was full of plenty of juicy moments including her doomed romance with Mallorcan heartthrob Carlos Moya (the quote that ends with, “…from the bottom of my heart” is a master class in Italian-to-English translation.


Bobby Riggs (USA)
(born 1918, died Oct. 25, 1995)

2766.riggs Tennis birthdays   Feb. 25, 20106557.bobburiiggs Tennis birthdays   Feb. 25, 2010Riggs, the ultimate hustler until he drew his last breath, is best remembered for his “Battle of the Sexes” with Billie Jean King in 1973, of course.

But he also an accomplished player in his younger days, before TV and the internet and professional tours.

He was No. 1 as an amateur in 1941, and again as a pro in 1946 and 1947.

He won the singles, doubles and mixed doubles at Wimbledon in 1939.

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