One of the biggest tennis controversies in the 21st century was Maria Sharapova‘s doping scandal in 2016. What happened after that was the polarisation of the WTA tour. Some players were very fine with the 15-month ban that she served and some very furious and wanted a life ban. At Russian’s return in 2017, a huge critic of Maria Sharapova was Eugenie Bouchard.
Maria Sharapova’s doping ban in 2016
Sharapova failed a drug test at the 2016 Australian Open. Her blood had the traces of drug ‘meldonium’. That drug improves exercise capacity. Sharapova’s reasoning for the drug was that she had been taking it for 10 years for magnesium deficiency and the hereditary disease of diabetes that existed in her family.
So the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) issued a 15-month ban to Sharapova, as they regarded it as unintentional doping. This irked Bouchard and here her feud with Sharapova started.
Eugenie Bouchard calls Maria Sharapova a ‘cheater’
On her return from the ban in 2017, Sharapova got a lot of wildcards to take part in various tournaments. And Bouchard felt this was unfair. Thus, in an interview in 2017, Bouchard labeled the five-time Grand Slam champion as a ‘cheater’.
“I don’t think that’s right. She is a cheater. So, to me, I don’t think a cheater in any sport should be allowed to play that sport again. It’s so unfair to all the other players who do it the right way.”
Maria Sharapova: “My tennis speaks for itself, and that’s what I focus on,”
Sharapova continued the war of words. Before her 2017 Madrid clash against Bouchard, Sharapova didn’t focus on the Canadian’s comments and believed to talk through her tennis.
“I don’t have anything to say – I am way above that. I’ve heard a lot of things. If everything affects you on and off the court, I think that would be a really challenging position to be in. It’s not the way I think. My tennis speaks for itself, and that’s what I focus on,”
Read More: WATCH: The Resonating Story Behind Maria Sharapova Building a $200 Million Empire
Eugenie Bouchard doesn’t regret calling Maria Sharapova a cheater
Just a few weeks after the above comments, Bouchard and Sharapova played a second-round thriller at the 2017 Mutua Madrid Open. Bouchard was victorious, and her reaction after the victory was emphatic. After the match, Bouchard was asked about her comments on Sharapova’s return. The Canadian refused to change her statements and strongly abided by whatever she said about the Russian.
“Many people around the world who were maybe afraid to speak out were actually glad I said that and supported me. So no, no regrets at all. I was asked a question and I answered it honestly. That’s who I am.”
Read More: Eugenie Bouchard and Bianca Andreescu Amongst the Most Popular Canadian Athletes in 2020
Bouchard and Sharapova subtly troll each other on Twitter
Further on Twitter, Sharapova subtly showed her displeasure with Bouchard by liking a mock-up of a book cover featuring Bouchard on Twitter. The cover had Bouchard and the title saying: ‘Insufferable, My Life So Far – I Wish I Was Maria Sharapova’.
In 2019, Bouchard took a subtle dig at Sharapova. At the 2019 US Open, Serena Williams thrashed Sharapova in the first round, and interestingly, Bouchard was one of the attendees in the game. Seeing the lack of fight from Sharapova, Bouchard tweeted: “I am just here for the handshake lol”.
It is also a known fact that when Bouchard was rising on the tour, she held huge admiration for Sharapova. In 2013, a 19-year-old Bouchard said: “She is my idol, and I look up to her, especially her game style. I try to play like her.”
Bouchard’s 2014 Wimbledon final appearance made people strike similarities between her and the former World No.1. But ever since the doping scandal, Bouchard doesn’t hold any admiration for Sharapova.
Read More: THRILLING: Eugenie Bouchard’s Most Watched Match of the 2020 Season