INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Eugenie Bouchard scored a victory in court last month, gaining a favorable ruling from a jury and an undisclosed settlement for damages after suing the United States Tennis Association for a fall in the women’s locker room at the U.S. Open.
But it was the only victory in recent months for Bouchard, 24, who is struggling on the tennis court and, increasingly, off it.
The latest off-court development is the departure of her agent, John Tobias of TLA, who severed ties with Bouchard last week. Her list of sponsors was once long and lucrative, as she capitalized on her 2014 on-court success, but those relationships have dried up too.
TLA was the fourth agency to represent Bouchard since she reached the Wimbledon women’s singles final in 2014. That is an unusual number for any professional athlete, especially in such a short time frame. She also had previously been represented by two heavyweights in sports management, Lagardère and WME/IMG.
“I didn’t agree with the way some things were being done, and felt it best if she found someone else,” Tobias said.
After losing in the first round at the BNP Paribas Open here on Wednesday, Bouchard conceded that the parting with Tobias was not “by mutual agreement.”
“I don’t have anyone in place right now,” she said. “A lot has been going on and it’s, like, the seventh thing on my mind right now. But after this tournament I’ll regroup, spend some time with my team and try to figure something out.”
Three people with knowledge of Bouchard’s contracts said that three of her biggest sponsors did not renew their agreements this year: Colgate; Aviva, an insurance company; and Usana, a line of nutritional supplements.
With longtime clothing sponsor Nike, Bouchard’s compensation is strictly performance- and rankings-based. That is a fairly standard part of the latter stages of those contracts.
Bouchard is currently No. 116 in the WTA rankings. And according to two people with knowledge of Nike’s practices, the company is paying her zero dollars, as of March 1. It is expected that she will no longer wear a line exclusive to her.
Of more pressing concern is the fact that her longtime contract with Babolat rackets expired at the end of 2017, and was not renewed.
Two minor endorsements in recent weeks were made without Tobias’s knowledge and damaged the player-agent relationship.
One advertisement has her promoting an e-book about cryptocurrency. She is seen posing near a basketball court, with the home page of the company’s website appearing on her mobile phone.
The second shows Bouchard in full makeup pointing to a tube of chewable energy tablets from Neuenergy.
Neither is a blue-chip endorsement with a well-established brand like Rolex and Beats, collaborations that characterized Bouchard’s endorsement portfolio until now.
Both advertisements appear on Bouchard’s Instagramfeed, which has more than 1.7 million followers and once was filled with various promotional posts.
All that remains are photos from her latest appearance in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue and pictures and videos of her training.
After testing rackets during the off-season, Bouchard began the 2018 season playing with a Head model. But she quickly returned to her tried-and-tested Babolat Pure Aero by the time she competed at the Australian Open.
On the practice courts at the BNP Paribas Open, Bouchard was still trying out rackets, even though the season is more than two months old.
In her first official match since the beginning of February, she lost to the American qualifier Sachia Vickery, 6-3, 6-4, in an error-strewn effort that spoke to her lack of recent match play.
Her preparation, cut short by the time spent in New York for the trial, was curtailed even more by an infection that required the extraction of two wisdom teeth shortly before she flew to California.
The effect of the fall at the 2015 United States Open on Bouchard’s performance may never be fully quantified. She had been struggling that season long before she slipped and fell in the women’s locker room.
But Bouchard had remained highly marketable despite her fall in the rankings. She has been given a significant number of wild cards into tournaments, including one into the main draw of the BNP Paribas Open this week. And her appearance in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue was a repeat performance from 2017.
But it seems that now, the effects of her struggles on the court finally are being felt off it.
Published at Sat, 10 Mar 2018 12:05:05 +0000