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Laura Robson and Eugenie Bouchard: Two friends determined to take on the world

Sudeshna Banerjee

Laura Robson (L) and Eugenie Bouchard

Watching Laura Robson and Eugenie Bouchard’s self-made Gangnam Style video gives one a slight peek into the amazing self-assurance of two 18-year-old girls trying to make their foray into popular culture in their own, indigenous style. The video made in Beijing in 2012 notched up a humongous number of Youtube views, and both Laura and Eugenie got rave reviews for their superb efforts.

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If the video did portray anything more, then it surely gave an indication to how carefree, audacious and eager these teenagers are as they take the arduous road to fame and glory. Now 19, both Laura and Eugenie (adorably called Genie) are at the helm of their country’s rankings and their video perhaps is a microcosm representing their insatiable hunger to break into the world of big girls in their own, independent way. Independence has been a key element to their success as the British No. 1 points out, “I think I have had to grow up quite fast, even when I was really young.”

Perhaps that is what aided Robson and her best buddy, Bouchard to attain maturity so swiftly. Touring around the world and living a life of their own, these precocious talents grew up fast and today when they remain toe-to-toe with the established superstars, it represents the years of dedication, perseverance and sacrifices they have made to reach there.

Bouchard’s family has had to shuttle between her native Montreal and Florida to continue with her training and the teen had to opt for distance education. She knows she misses out on the simple fun of a teenager’s life but never bemoans it. Her twin sister, Beatrice indulges in her school life and Eugenie nonchalantly underlines, “Sometimes I see her and I want her life, but not too often. The life I’m living is special, exceptional.”

It is this belief that encourages these two girls who first met at the tender age of nine, to continue in their journey to the pinnacle. The two have been the best chums on the tour since then and each has brought laurels to their respective nations as a fledgling talent waiting to soar.

Even there, their paths have revealed similarities. The two belong to two nations who are vigorously searching for the voice amongst the cacophony, the leader amongst the chaos. Both Great Britain and Canada have endured long waits, Canada though even longer, for the tennis heroine they can look up to.

Laura Robson

When Laura made her Grand Slam breakthrough in junior Wimbledon in 2008 and became the first British player to win it since Annabel Croft in 1984, it did give a ray of hope to a Slam-starved nation. Her feat was oft talked about and needless to say, the burden of expectations was soon imposed on her. Even though her talent was never to be denied, she followed it up with the winding road that included reaching two other junior Australian Open finals, changing coaches and finally arriving on the big scene in 2012.

The southpaw stirred a lot of attention by fearlessly clobbering her way past major champions Kim Clijsters and Li Na on the biggest tennis court in the world – Arthur Ashe Stadium. To watch an 18-year-old weave magic like that consistently was incredible and this time she was on her own unlike at the London Olympics where she had clinched the mixed doubles silver medal with the support of Andy Murray. And that is what made her feat even more remarkable. A WTA final and a stunning upset of Petra Kvitova at the following Grand Slam – the Australian Open came next and soon Robson was one of the major talking points in the tennis circle.

At Wimbledon, the nation eagerly waited for Robson to deliver and she did. The British No. 1 vindicated once again that she thrives on the elite stage and the vociferous chants of her name can only perk her up. The serve which she is currently working on with her new coach Miles Maclagan did falter at times but Robson rebounded and continued with her spree of obliterating seeds and Maria Kirilenko soon had to head for the exit. In her second round match too, the illustrious presence of a bevy of stars that included Sir Bobby Charlton failed to unsettle her and Robson marched her way into the third round for the first time.

Meanwhile, Robson’s intrepidity was being replicated by her own pal, Bouchard on the hallowed turf of SW19. Unknowingly Robson had perhaps inspired her friend and made her embrace the British charm in 2012. Bouchard made headlines as the first Canadian to clinch the singles title at any Slam when she emerged as the junior champion on the lustrous green lawns and she tasted success in doubles as well. Naturally, her achievement gratified the media back home and hopes were soon pinned on her to quench the nation’s long-standing thirst of a singles major champion.

Eugenie Bouchard

Bouchard made the big leap to the senior circuit and is playing her first full year on the WTA Tour in 2013 and the results are coming thick and fast.

After winning a round at the French Open, she arrived on the other side of the English Channel – the scene of her biggest triumph so far. She succeeded to mesmerize the spectators and the experts of the sport with her lucid shotmaking and awesome defence as well as with her gorgeous looks. On being hurtled onto the Centre Court surprisingly, the teen who has been working with the erstwhile World No. 3 Nathalie Tauziat, remained unfazed by the big challenge and played the former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic with lot of guts and gumption. The biggest victory of her young career received commendation from even the Wimbledon queen herself, Martina Navratilova who said she had spotted a future Grand Slam champion.

Bouchard unfortunately lost her third round match but not before making her presence seriously felt on the Tour. Robson and Bouchard are a part of a rising teenage brigade who have burgeoning self-confidence and know that they can match themselves with the best. But what makes these two girls unique amongst them is their unsullied and innocent friendship in spite of their ambitions regarding their personal glory. Tennis is a torturous, grinding game and the two have each other to look upto and motivate in their tireless pursuit of excellence.

And what’s more important is the fact that as they continue to push themselves upwards and try to pierce into the seemingly impervious barrier of the topmost stars, they are themselves presenting a fresh rivalry that tennis enthusiasts will be anxious to watch. The 2013 Family Circle Cup gave evidence to that when Bouchard edged past the Briton in three sets to earn her second victory over her friend.

Diligent and passionate, elegant and affable, the two girls are here to stay and we can only hope that their latest Wimbledon success gives the major springboard that their careers require.

Edited by Staff Editor

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