Tennis fans are in a frenzy after Eugenie Bouchard was granted a wildcard to play at the French Open.
Tournament organisers announced on Tuesday that Bouchard, Andy Murray and Tsvetana Pironkova had been given wildcards for the claycourt grand slam beginning later this month.
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Bouchard, who reached the French Open semi-finals in 2014, has been playing claycourt tournaments since the season restarted last month and got to the final of the Istanbul Open where she lost in three sets on Sunday.
It was the Canadian’s first final in more than four years, however she lost in a third-set tiebreaker.
She lost to eventual champion Maria Sharapova in the French Open semi-finals in 2014, the same year she reached the Wimbledon final.
The 26-year-old climbed as high as World No.5 that year, but has since struggled with consistency.
Her run to the final in Istanbul saw her ranking climb from 272 to 167.
“I’m honestly shocked,” Bouchard told TSN about her reaction to getting the French Open wildcard.
Fans were also over the moon at the prospect of seeing Bouchard in action at a grand slam again.
RG wildcard for Genie!! 🙌🏼🙌🏼
— Baehme Bouchard (@GenieArmy_KY) September 14, 2020
Relatable af 😅🍰
And Genie Bouchard has reason to celebrate with a fancy dessert or two, as she just earned a French Open wild card spot after her stellar finals performance at the Istanbul Tennis Championship this week 🇨🇦 #thegist https://t.co/pT7iiiAIFO
— The GIST Canada (@thegistnewsca) September 14, 2020
Amazing! Go Genie!
— RyGuy (@RyGuy7519) September 14, 2020
Way to go Geni .. you worked hard physically and now your mental game is coming around Believe in yourself and have confidence you can “Just Do It”.., making Canada proud🇨🇦🇨🇦
— M Matuz (@MikeMatuzic) September 14, 2020
Good for her.. she played well last week. She seems fit. If she remains focused and healthy, she can make some noise.
— Rocco (@59roccom) September 14, 2020
Excellent choices !
Wimbledon needs to take note an award one for them, too when time will come.
— Loli (@LoliLondon) September 15, 2020
Bouchard on comeback trail after sad decline
Bouchard is one of the most-criticised players in tennis, with fans and trolls constantly pointing to her social media activity as to why she’s suffered such a dramatic decline.
The trolling got so bad that Bouchard recently admitted she’s stopped posting bikini photos online because of the backlash.
“I just don’t value the opinions of people who are out there just judging what I put out there,” Bouchard said in an interview with tennis.com recently.
“And I really try to refrain from posting bikini pictures, I really do. Apparently if you post that, it means you don’t play tennis or something.
“It’s influenced a little bit how I act. Maybe I’m just getting more mature and I’m like, ‘Look, I’m not going to post butt pictures every day.”
The 26-year-old said she’s learned to live with the criticism and tries to block out the haters.
“I’ve been through the whole spectrum of people loving you. When everything’s going great, people love you. When everything’s going bad, people hate you,” she said.
“I’ve been through that wave so many times. It just sucks. People think social media is an exact representation of your day when it’s not.”
Murray and Pironkova also get wildcards
Former World No.1 Murray, a finalist at Roland Garros in 2016, was also handed a wildcard at the US Open last month where he reached the second round in his first grand slam after hip surgery last year.
The Briton was the only non-Frenchman of eight male players to be given a free pass into the main draw of the clay grand slam.
He went two rounds in New York, and improved to 110th in the rankings, but still too low for the French Open when it published its main draw entry list.
Bulgaria's Pironkova, who surprised the field at the US Open when she reached the quarter-finals in her first tournament in three years following a maternity break, was also given a wildcard entry into the main draw at Roland Garros.
Pironkova's best result at Roland Garros was the quarter-finals in 2016.
The French Open, originally scheduled for May-June, was postponed to September 27-October 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.