Eugenie Bouchard is not playing nice anymore.
WTA’s Most Improved Player of 2014 is suing the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and the United States National Tennis Centre (USNTC).
The Canadian beauty slipped and fell in the women’s locker room after a mixed doubles match at the US Open suffering a concussion the ill-effects of which have not worn off a month later.
The accident was caused by a cleaning agent that was left overnight on the floor and meant to be applied when the room is no longer in use.
Bouchard claims that there was no warning sign highlighting the state of the floor.
Bouchard’s lawyer, Benedict Morelli, said:
“If they were going to do that, they should have closed the door and locked it off. And they didn’t do that.”
“We could be talking about millions and millions, we don’t know the extent yet.”
The World No. 39 has played just one match since retiring midway last week against Andrea Petkovic at the China Open and withdrawing from tournaments in Wuhan, Tokyo and Hong Kong.
Bouchard is seeking actual, compensatory and statutory damages along with punitive damages, and wants a jury trial.
Chris Widmaier, the U.S.T.A.’s managing director of corporate communications, refused to comment saying it was against policy.
The suit states:
“Ms. Bouchard entered the physiotherapy room of the women’s locker room when she was caused to slip and fall by a slippery, foreign and dangerous substance on the floor.
The Defendants caused or created this slippery, foreign and dangerous substance to be on the floor, or knew or should have known that the slippery, foreign and dangerous substance was on the floor.
The Defendants failed to provide Ms. Bouchard with any warnings whatsoever regarding the aforementioned dangerous condition.”
Bouchard was named the world’s most marketable athlete last May by SportsPro, a UK-based magazine.
She was 2013’s WTA Newcomer of the Year.
It was in 2014 that she had her best results making the semi-finals at the Australian and French Opens. She was a finalist at Wimbledon and made the fourth round at the US Open. She attained a career-high ranking of 5.
This year, she suffered a slump in form but was regaining lost ground when she suffered her accident prior to her fourth round match against Roberta Vinci at Flushing Meadows. Vinci went on to make the final losing to compatriot Flavia Pennetta.
Concussions are a rare occurrence in tennis. It is a non-contact sport, after all.
WebMD describes it as “the most common and least serious type of traumatic brain injury. The word comes from the Latin concutere, which means ‘to shake violently.’ It is usually caused by a sudden direct blow or bump to the head.”
“The brain is made of soft tissue. It’s cushioned by spinal fluid and encased in the protective shell of the skull. When you sustain a concussion, the impact can jolt your brain. Sometimes, it literally causes it to move around in your head. Traumatic brain injuries can cause bruising, damage to the blood vessels, and injury to the nerves.
The result? Your brain doesn’t function normally. If you’ve suffered a concussion, vision may be disturbed, you may lose equilibrium, or you may fall unconscious. In short, the brain is confused.”
The website adds:
“Concussions can be tricky to diagnose. Though you may have a visible cut or bruise on your head, you can’t actually see a concussion. Signs may not appear for days or weeks after the injury. Some symptoms last for just seconds; others may linger.”
Writing for Yahoo! Sports, Canada, Stephanie Myles cites the case of Sarah Borwell, a British player who was hit by American Lilia Osterloha’s ball at a WTA doubles tournament in Stanford, Connecticut in July 2010.
“‘Girls aren’t like boys where they go around you. She kind of went at me. I turned, and it hit the back of my skull, bottom left,’ Borwell said in an interview with Eh Game.
She kept playing, felt fine, and they won the match.
‘As soon as the adrenaline wore off I was a mess. I was feeling sick. I was dizzy, and my face swelled up on the lefthand side,’ Borwell said. ‘They monitored me for the evening, kept checking every hour and the next day, I had an MRI in San Francisco and they saw a bruise on my brain.’
Borwell was told she would probably be fine in a week. She went to San Diego for the next tournament but she still felt groggy, and had to stay in a dark room. She then flew to Montreal for the Rogers Cup, where they underwent what she termed some “basic tests” and was told she could go out and play.
She tried to practise. ‘I couldn’t walk straight, get my feet straight or anything,’ Borwell remembered.
A specialist who dealt with hockey players administered the SAC test. Orwell was asked to count backwards, month by month. She got as far as May. She couldn’t balance on one foot with her eyes closed. Her speech was slurred.
Orwell missed the US Open; she returned to action at the Quebec City tournament in mid-September, about six weeks after the original accident. Then she flew to India to compete in the Commonwealth Games, where she began having panic attacks just being around people and talking to them.
By the 2011 Australian Open (where she teamed up with Canadian Marie-Eve Pelletier), more than five months later, Borwell still was having issues, especially with verbal communication.
‘I’ve been hit before and if it hits you on the skull, you’re fine. But right at the base of my skull, it got a bit of the brain,’ she said. ‘When you have balls whizzing at your head … that was kind of the end of my career, to be honest.’
Borwell says it took her about a year to feel 100 per cent again. She continued to play, but she still didn’t feel like herself. ‘My short-term memory’s still not great. I’m finding it a lot more difficult to remember things, and my speech,’ she said.”
Wikipedia details post-concussion syndrome thus:
“In post-concussion syndrome, symptoms do not resolve for weeks, months, or years after a concussion, and may occasionally be permanent. About 10% to 20% of people have post concussion syndrome for more than a month. Symptoms may include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, anxiety, memory and attention problems, sleep problems, and irritability. There is no scientifically established treatment, and rest, a recommended recovery technique, has limited effectiveness. Symptoms usually go away on their own within months.The question of whether the syndrome is due to structural damage or other factors such as psychological ones, or a combination of these, has long been the subject of debate.”
Genie Bouchard has not been loquacious about the nature of her complaint on social media.
These are her latest posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram respectively.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 lists the duties of an employer as follows:
“SEC. 5. Duties
(1) shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees;
(2) shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act.
29 USC 654
While the USTA and the USNTC are certainly not Bouchard’s employers, they are duty-bound to ensure safety of the players on their premises during events they conduct.
We can only hope that Bouchard returns to the court soon putting aside the acrimony and recriminations that will certainly ensue from her legal action. WTA, too, wouldn’t wish to lose another rising star given that recent Grand Slam winners have been in the latter stages of their career opting out soon after realising their Grand Slam dreams. Li Na, Marion Bartoli and now Flavia Pennetta are the most recent additions to that brigade. Kim Clijsters is another.
The WTA tour’s marketability ebbs and flows with its players’ saleability.
One of their contemporary campaigns’ featured the tagline, “Strong is beautiful.”
Strong, in this case, is concussed and very much dizzy.
Marin Cilic is in the semis of the US Open once more.
Last year, he won his maiden Slam knocking out Asian hope Kei Nishikori in the process under the watchful eye and tutelage of his countryman Goran Ivanisevic.
Tennis fans all remember Goran not just for his histrionics on court, his big booming serves but also for the fairy-tale ending to his career where he won his first and only Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2001 after succumbing at his earlier two final appearances at the sport’s Mecca.
Cilic has been plagued with a shoulder injury this season. He missed out on the Australian Open and has had indifferent results—by his newly exalted standards—losing in the fourth round and quarter-finals at the French Open and Wimbledon respectively.
The Croat has flown under the radar at his Grand Slam homecoming in New York.
It’s always difficult returning from an injury.
No one knows that better than Cilic’s coach, Ivanisevic, who was unseeded at his maiden Grand Slam triumph, only playing with the benefit of a wild card.
But it’s Del Potro, another US Open winner, that similarities can be drawn with.
The 2009 US Open champion first suffered a left wrist injury in 2010.
He returned only after a nine-month break.
He was back to his best only in 2012 ending the year ranked No.7. He returned to the top 5 in 2013.
The recurrence of his wrist injury saw him missing out most of the 2014 season.
He returned briefly in 2015 but withdrew from the Australian Open with the injury flaring up again.
He has been operated since and is now rehabilitating.
Can Marin Cilic break the hoodoo?
Since 2003, except for Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, no US Open champion has returned to claim the title.
The title has not been defended successfully since 2008 when Federer won the last of his US Open titles.
The singletons in the club—in terms of US Open titles in the modern era—include the likes of Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith,Ilie Năstase,Manuel Orantes, Guillermo Vilas,Mats Wilander,Boris Becker,Marat Safin,Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.
Cilic takes on a formidable foe in Novak in the semis. It could be either Federer or Wawrinka in the final. Interestingly, all the semi-finalists have at least one Slam to their credit. Wawrinka is the only one without a US Open title.
A trivial bit of trivia about Cilic is that he is yet to clinch an ATP 500 or Masters title.
It’s going to be a slug-fest. Sit back and enjoy the fireworks.
What she said:
“I will do a chocolate deal for product only. No need for money.”
Caroline Wozniacki is less interested in the money endorsements bring her and more about how a company and its products make her feel.
The Dane tennis star desires a chocolate deal because Swiss master, Roger Federer, left a huge bar of Lindt in her US Open locker.
What she really meant:
“I want what chocolate can do for me. I have chocolate on my mind.”
What she definitely didn’t:
“It’s got to be Swiss chocolate or nothing. Belgian will just not do. And it should be shaped like Rory (McIllroy).”
What she said:
“I was shocked. I thought at least, you know, I would get a face to face or something. But there was nothing. It was just a phone call and I did not hear from him again.”
Caroline Wozniacki reveals the back-story behind her sudden break-up with Northern Irish golfer Rory McIllroy. The nuptials were called off by the golfer ending a three-year relationship.
The luscious Dane said:
“It was very hard because he made it very public from the start. He put out a press release so I didn’t have a choice, you know, it just got put in my face.
I was shocked. I thought at least, you know, I would get a face to face or something. But there was nothing. It was just a phone call and I did not hear from him again.
I don’t think you expect to find yourself in a situation like that, you can’t prepare yourself or your body for anything like that so I think I was in a bit of a shocked phase there for a while.”
Wozniacki has since moved on and poked fun at her former boyfriend’s lack of inches.
“I went to Miami after the French Open and Serena was there and we had a great time. I came back from that and I felt refreshed, I felt like a new self.
I started practising towards Wimbledon and I was playing well. I think you just have to take life as it goes and I believe you never get things put on you that you can’t handle. I’m definitely on the other side now — I’ve moved on.
I think it is very important to have a life off the court and to me it wasn’t that hard to balance tennis and a relationship.
I would like a taller guy so I can wear my heels. Someone who is fun to be around who doesn’t take himself too seriously.”
McIllroy broke off the engagement claiming:
“The problem is mine. The wedding invitations issued at the weekend made me realise that I wasn’t ready for all that marriage entails.”
The ace golfer has since won two Slams while his ex-partner made only her second ever Grand Slam final at the US Open last week.
What Wozniacki really meant:
“Hell, I was supposed to be married and you pulled the rug from under me. You’re a rug rat.”
What she definitely didn’t:
“Well, at least, he didn’t post it on Facebook, direct message me on Twitter or IM me , well, anywhere.”
Sam Stosur Is Imprinted For Posterity
What she said:
“I think I’ll have to go out and buy a couple of my own stamps.”
Sam Stosur is in splits as she considers purchasing stamps commemorating her 2011 US Open victory. The special issue souvenir sheet was issued by Australia Post retailing 10*60 cents Southern Cross for AUS $15.95.
“I know Australia has done it in the past with the gold-medal winners, so to have that of myself is pretty cool. Maybe I can post a few letters.”
Stosur, on the Australia Post website, remarked:
I’m really excited Australia Post has decided to release a souvenir stamp sheet to celebrate my US Open win. The past couple of weeks have been very exciting and I’m still coming to terms with the idea of being a Grand Slam winner. This is something I’ll remember forever.
What she really meant:
“Trust Australia Post to not send me complimentary copies.”
What she definitely didn’t:
“Letter writing? Can anyone recall when they last wrote one? Maybe this will get my fans to switch over to snail mail.”