Ahead of next week’s Australian Open, Canadian tennis superstar Eugenie Bouchard lifts the lid on her recent trip to Ireland — and her attempts to enjoy Guinness.
How much do you know about your family connections in Ireland?
On my mum’s side, her grandfather was Irish. He emigrated to Canada back in the early 1900s, so that side of my family’s Irish. I had never been to Ireland. It was a great opportunity for me, on my way back home at the beginning of my off-season, I was in Luxembourg, so it was just a great opportunity.
That part of my family is from Cork but they are such a big family, they have cousins and things and are all kind of spread out all through Ireland, I think. I hear people say they are related to me from everywhere in Ireland, so I’ll just think of it as Ireland, as a whole, is my family.
How was your holiday in Ireland this year? What are your best memories?
It was amazing. I flew into Cork – when I arrived, one of the guys who worked at the airport told me he was a second cousin of mine. That was a great start to the trip, so typical. I got to visit parts of Cork where my family lives and everything, the cemetery where some of the family are buried, that was amazing. Then after that we did a car tour of some of the southern and western parts of Ireland, so we drove through Dingle, Tralee and we got up to Galway. That was my last stop.
What did you think of the food? Did you try a Guinness?
I did try Guinness. I wasn’t a big fan, but I feel like it’s an acquired taste. I feel like I’ll just keep trying it and it’ll grow on me. As for food, we were always kind of near the water on the route we did and so we always had chowder, we were testing out the chowders in different cities. That was fun. I was with my mum and my grandparents.
What did you like best and what did you like the least about Ireland?
What I liked best and what I was most surprised about was how beautiful it was, and how green it really was. I was at the Blarney Castle. I kissed the Blarney stone — I posted that video on social media and everyone loved it. I guess what was not the most amazing was the weather, because it was quite rainy. But that actually causes the most amazing thing, because that’s the reason it’s so green, why it’s so luscious, so earthy everywhere. I really didn’t expect that, I didn’t expect the landscape to be like that, I didn’t expect it to be so beautiful, so I was taken aback by that.
I was so happy, so proud to connect with my roots. It was an amazing trip.
Australia was where your career took off back in 2014, when you made it to the semi-finals in Melbourne. You’ve had a tough time lately but how close to that kind of form and confidence do you feel?
First of all, it’s just amazing coming back here because I always have these memories of when I did so well. It’s always nice to have those good feelings when you’re at an event. Recently, obviously, I feel like I have not been in my best form, but right now it’s a work in progress. Australia’s always been good to me, so we’ll see what happens this week, but everything is always a process.
Is there one aspect of your game in particular that you feel you need to improve to get back to your best?
Just keep working like I am right now. Things don’t happen overnight. In the second half of 2017, I really didn’t play that many matches and was not training enough. That’s something I’m really trying to do more now, training more and trying to get more matches in and I feel like it will come back to me.
You are playing doubles here with Sloane Stephens? How did that come about and how much are you looking forward to it?
She just asked me during the off-season and I was like, of course, because we played together in DC this past summer and made the finals. But more than that we just had so much fun on the court. I’m so happy she asked me, obviously she’s a slam winner and she’s amazing, but even more than that I get along with her so well and we had so much fun on the court.
“I think that’s the most important thing and I’m looking forward to just enjoying these next few weeks.
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