In her first public comments since her locker room fall at the U.S. Open, Eugenie Bouchard revealed that she is unsure about playing in next year’s Australian Open. In a TV interview with Toronto news station CP24, Bouchard stated that she has yet to make any commitments to playing next season, but she is trying her best to stay positive while recovering from a concussion that she sustained in New York this past August.
The Backstory: Bouchard Falls and Diagnosed with a Concussion at the U.S. Open, Sues the USTA
On September 5th, 2015, Bouchard finished a busy day’s worth of play, defeating Dominika Cibulkova in the singles and Elina Svitolina and Artem Sitak in the mixed doubles, partnering Nick Kyrgios. Shortly after winning her mixed doubles match, the 21-year-old was heading to the ice bath in the locker room late at night when she slipped on the floor that had just been cleaned, hitting her elbow and head in the process. That fall would ultimately result in a concussion, which forced Bouchard to withdraw from the women’s singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles competitions after being highly advised against playing by the medical staff.
The Canadian was aiming for a winning return to action in Wuhan a few weeks later, but was forced to withdraw after having a reoccurrence of concussion symptoms. A week later, Bouchard travelled to Beijing and managed to play a little more than a set of tennis, before retiring against Andrea Petkovic due to dizziness.
A couple of weeks later, Bouchard officially filed a lawsuit against the United States Tennis Association (USTA) for two counts of negligence (one towards the association itself and one to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre). The lawsuit claims that Bouchard ‘was caused to slip and fall by a slippery, foreign and dangerous substance on the floor, and the defendants either “caused or created it”, or “knew or should have known” that the substance was on the floor prior to the fall.
Last Monday, the USTA filed a 16-page response to the lawsuit, denying any wrongdoing in this case. “Bouchard was experienced and well-versed in the procedures and protocols of the women’s tour, both in the United States and internationally, and knew or should have known the procedures and protocols as they related to the operation of the physiotherapy room adjacent to the women’s locker room at the National Tennis Center and the attended rooms.”
The United States Tennis Association also demanded a trial by jury, much like Bouchard did, arguing that the room “is never dark; even when the lights are turned off, ‘twilight’ lighting remains and partially illuminates the room.” The association also brought up the presence of Bouchard on social media in their rebuttal, stating that the “on-going and permanent physical injuries and sequelae to date” are inconsistent due to her “own admissions in various forms of social media and public commentary.”
Bouchard: “I don’t want to make any commitments in terms of [tournaments in 2016]”
In an interview with Toronto TV news station CP24, Bouchard said she was doing okay, but sounded unsure about playing next year’s Australian Open, which begins on January 18th. “I don’t know yet. I don’t want to make any comments or commitments in terms of [tournaments in 2016]. Just doing my best to try to get healthy, and yeah, just want to stay positive.”
Understandably filtered, the 21-year-old was very careful with what she said, remembering that whatever she says could get scrutinized by the USTA when presented in front of a jury in court. It is nearly impossible to determine what Bouchard is truly thinking and feeling right now because of her calm and neutral demeanour, as well as determine what she plans to do now that she has to prepare for the 2016 season in the wake of her own lawsuit.