Monday, February 26, 2018

A Tale of Two Injuries, Part I

In early September 2015, Eugenie Bouchard slipped and fell in a locker-room at the US Open, reportedly hitting her head.  According to her testimony in the lawsuit she subsequently brought against the United States Tennis Association (USTA), Bouchard had told a trainer that she would return for her ice bath after stretching and talking to the media.  When she returned to the locker-room, the trainers had all left.  As a result, there were no witnesses to her slip and fall.

At the time of this event, Bouchard’s career, which had been sizzling in 2014, was clearly on a path of decline.  After a breakthrough 2013 when she was named WTA Newcomer of the Year, Bouchard continued to enjoy significant success in 2014.  She won her first WTA title at a warm-up event to the French Open, and made it to the finals of Wimbledon.  She ended that year ranked in the top 5. 

But by 2015, Bouchard’s star had begun to fade.  She went on an embarrassing first-round losing streak, during which she fired the first of many subsequent coaches.  It has made no difference.

The terms of the settlement between Bouchard and the USTA will of course remain confidential.  But settlements like these can cost millions and it is we fans who will eventually feel the burn.  The money, let’s face it, has to come from somewhere.  And Bouchard made sure she was getting hers.

In 2013, Tornado Alicia Black also enjoyed a breakthrough year, making it to the finals of the junior US Open.  By 2014, she was #3 in the junior world rankings, clearly a player with promise, hailed as the next William Sister.  But by 2015, her career was seriously sidelined when a hip injury forced her out of the 2015 US Open. 

Twice homeless as a child, Tornado relied on inner resources of resilience to help her plot a path to recovery.  Despite being injured, she continued to provide tennis lessons so that she could support herself, her sister and her mother.  She initially relied on Medicaid for her medical care, but was later persuaded to use crowd-funding sources to cover the cost of her hip surgeries.

“I'm not the type of person that likes to ask people for money," Black told the New York Times in a profile story. “But I was getting so much support from friends and from people I didn’t even know, and everyone kept telling me, ‘set up the GoFundMe’. I've been given so much support over the last couple of days. It has really been amazing.”

This is a tale of two injuries.  The first happened to an extremely wealthy woman who slipped and fell in a bathroom and likely has been paid millions for it.  Never mind the fact that she returned to tennis about three months later and has not stopped playing since.  Never mind the fact that after her sizzling breakthrough, she turned out to be just another Melanie Oudin, yet another pony-tailed blonde getting all the chances.

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