Eugenie Bouchard has made a significant career shift, leaving tennis to join the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) Tour in 2024.
The 29-year-old, formerly ranked as high as No 5 in tennis singles, made the official announcement on Instagram on Thursday. “With one of the biggest signings of the year, Genie Bouchard, professional tennis star with a WTA #5 career high in singles, joins the PPA Tour in 2024,” read the post in collaboration with the league.
The former Wimbledon finalist has faced significant challenges due to injuries since her peak in 2014. Her recent defeats in the qualifying rounds for Wimbledon and the US Open indicate her struggles.
Notably, she had a controversial encounter with Dayana Yastremska, whom she had previously defeated in the first round of the Madrid Open. Bouchard referred to Yastremska as a “doper” after the match in Spain, creating a social media fiasco. Bouchard tweeted, “There’s something about playing dopers in Madrid.”
It also led to a snub at the net during their recent US Open qualifier. Yastremska gave Bouchard a cold glare and skipped shaking the Canadian’s hand, instead proceeding to shake the umpire’s hand.
For now, though her focus now shifts to pursuing a career in pickleball. Bouchard’s move to the sport follows a trend of tennis players before her.
In September of last year, Noah Rubin made a surprising announcement about leaving the world of tennis. The 26-year-old athlete shared his decision to shift his focus to pickleball through an Instagram video in which he playfully joked about his 5ft 9in height.
“The tennis court is just way too big, and there’s way too much ground to cover,” Rubin said in the video. “I recently came across the pickleball court, and it clicked: this is where I belong. This is home now. And in this sport, size doesn’t matter.”
Players and entertainment celebrities such as Jamie Foxx are are transitioning from tennis to pickleball for various reasons. Many find pickleball places less physical strain on the body, offering a more sustainable playing experience. Additionally, they perceive pickleball as a faster and more engaging sport than tennis.
The accessibility of pickleball to a broader audience and the versatility of surfaces for playing also contribute to its appeal. There are concerns within the tennis community about the increasing number of players switching to pickleball and converting tennis courts.