It's not the first time that we'll see a tennis pro move to the pickleball court. Only recently, former ATP pro, Jack Sock retired from professional tennis, but at the same time, announced his move to pickleball's PPA Tour.
It's his colleague from the WTA Tour, Eugenie Bouchard, who will now join him on the PPA Tour, as the Canadian is set to join the growing list of tennis players making a switch from tennis to pickleball.
Only recently, holding the world in her grip at the No. 5 spot in the WTA Rankings, Bouchard was one of the finest talents on the women's tour. But the wheel of time is unpredictable, and for Bouchard, it is now hinting at a path in pickleball career.
Pickleball, often described as a hybrid between tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, has recently been gaining traction, especially among those looking for a fresh athletic pursuit. And as the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) Tour unveiled, Bouchard has committed herself to this sport for the upcoming 2024 season.
Following her 2014 Wimbledon finalist stint, Bouchard's journey on the tennis court seemed to oscillate between moments of hope and despair. The past four seasons witnessed her grapple with form and injuries, making the main draw of a major tournament an elusive dream.
The Roland Garros 2020 was her singular beacon, amidst recurring exits, like the recent one against Dayana Yastremska at the US Open qualifiers. But, perhaps, the most poignant chapter of her recent tennis narrative is the prolonged hiatus due to a right shoulder injury.
This 17-month intermission between 2021 and 2022 saw a former world No. 5, now ranked 215, fighting to regain her stature. Though she showcased sparks of her previous brilliance with two tour-level victories this season, consistency remained amiss.
And this brings us to the question: Is pickleball a temporary detour or a permanent destination for Bouchard? The 29-year-old’s silence on the impact of this shift on her WTA future only adds more mystery.
Could it be a strategic move to regain fitness, given pickleball’s lesser physical intensity compared to tennis? Or perhaps, is it an exploration of new horizons, a pursuit of a fresh challenge after the highs and lows of professional tennis?