Canadians by the millions caught ‘Genie Fever’ during this year’s Wimbledon tennis championship, when Montrealer Eugenie Bouchard became the first woman from this country to ever make a Grand Slam final.
Readers of this column, of course, have been somewhat familiar with Bouchard, since her Wimbledon junior championship was detailed in an October, 2012 column, and her accomplishment of making the semi-finals of 2014’s first Grand Slam, the Australian Open, was covered in a column this past February.
But the 20-year-old zoomed into the consciousness of the vast majority of Canadians in early July because of her Wimbledon run, where she didn’t meet her match until the women’s final, when she fell 6-3, 6-0 to the Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova, now a two-time women’s Wimbledon champ.
“I think it’s a tough road to try and become as good as I want to be, no matter what,” Bouchard told the Canadian Press. “I’m not going to win every single time. I think this was a good experience for me — my first Slam final — so I'm going to learn a lot from this match and hopefully use it to get much better.”
Bouchard’s career trajectory is obvious: Wimbledon junior champ, Grand Slam semi-finalist, Grand Slam finalist . . . the obvious next step is Grand Slam winner, and that just might happen in New York in September at the U.S. Open.
Canadian sports networks weren't the only ones to catch ‘Genie Fever.’ ESPN’s announcing crew of Hannah Storm, John McEnroe and Chrissie Evert absolutely gushed over Bouchard, who not only has the game but the good looks to move in the Maria Sharapova realm — tennis champion and multi-million-dollar Madison Avenue darling.
Almost lost among the Genie Fever of Wimbledon week was the play of Toronto’s Milos Raonic, who lost in the men’s semi-finals to seven-time champion Roger Federer.
Raonic, 23 and Bouchard are among the youngest elite tennis players in the world and it’s not far-fetched at all to consider that the No. 1 men’s and women’s players in the world one of these years could conceivably be both Canadians.
A big step toward that might happen in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. Aug. 25-Sept. 8. Both Bouchard and Raonic appear ready to take that next big step.
• Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com asked Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski what he said to plate umpire Quinn Wolcott to get ejected from the game? Pierzynski’s answer: “Give me a new ball. One you can see.”
• Washington Post reader Bill Holmes, asking a question in Norman Chad’s ‘Couch Slouch’ column: “If Redskins owner Daniel Snyder doesn’t understand the writing on the wall regarding the offensiveness of his team’s name, would smoke signals help?”
• RJ Currie of sportsdeke.com: “The Miami Dolphins players reportedly have a book of fines where one of the biggest penalties is for passing gas. Think of it as a fragrant foul.”
• Comedy writer Jerry Perisho, on the ‘Field of Dreams’ 25-year cast reunion at the film’s Iowa baseball field: “In the modern-day version, the little girl chokes on the hot dog and then hires an attorney who sues everyone present.”
• Josh Sens of Golf Digest, on a golf tip he received: “Mark Calcavecchia once suggested that I take two weeks off, then quit.”
• RJ Currie again: on second-seeded Li Na’s upset loss at Wimbledon. “Barbora Zahlavova Strycova overwhelmed her — 23 letters to 4.”
• Headline at TheOnion.com: “Brazilian government vows to use all money from World Cup for much-needed soccer infrastructure.”
• Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: “Germany's coach Joachim Loew said the American players “really have qualities, they fight, they can run and they really are tough on the opponent.” Their weakness, then? Soccer.”
• Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald: “Jose Canseco is touring Canada. This is obviously America's revenge on our neighbour to the north for sending us Justin Bieber.”
• Dickson again: “Uruguay's Luis Suarez was suspended nine games for biting an opponent in the World Cup. You thought soccer was becoming popular in the U.S. before; now, it's got the hockey fans.”
• Janice Hough of leftcoastsportsbabe.com: “The Yankees were swept by the Rays and have now joined the Red Sox in having sub .500 records. Stand by for Bud Selig and MLB to implement emergency 16 team NBA-type playoffs.”
• Norman Chad of the Washington Post, quoting broadcaster Vin Scully: “Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamppost. For support, not illumination.”
• Washington Post reader Steve DeShazo: “Should the tens of millions of non-Native Americans with credit card debt find the San Diego Chargers’ nickname disparaging?”
• Jake Richards of Vancouver’s CKST Radio, after Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux got arrested for repeatedly grabbing a male police officer’s butt: “Giroux was just taking the law into his own hands.”
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