Bouchard shrugs off 'Sharapova' heir tag

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iol spt pic Eugenie Bouchard

London - Eugenie Bouchard played down her role as heir to Maria Sharapova on Friday, 24 hours before the Wimbledon final which could transform the 20-year-old Canadian into a multi-million dollar superstar.

Exactly 10 years to the day when a 17-year-old Sharapova blitzed Serena Williams on Centre Court, becoming an overnight global phenomenon and the richest woman in sport, the same fate awaits Bouchard if she defeats Petra Kvitova for the Wimbledon title.

The comparisons are impossible to avoid.

Bouchard and Sharapova are tall, blonde and photogenic with the composed and self-confident high-profiles slavishly courted by blue-chip suitors desperate for endorsement.

But Bouchard, the first Canadian in history to reach a Grand Slam singles final, refuses to get ahead of herself.

“First and foremost I focus on the tennis. Whatever comes with it, I take in my stride. I know it's part of the job and I appreciate everything that comes with it,” said the Montreal native who will pocket more than $3 million if she triumphs on Sunday.

“But I know if I don't perform on the court then there's not much off court. So I really try to focus on my job, because at the end of the day I'm a tennis player.

“I go to work every day and I work on my tennis. As long as I do that, you know, I'll take anything that comes with it.”

Marketing experts have already been drooling over the fabulous riches which will await Bouchard if she gets past 2011 champion Kvitova.

Victory will also be a godsend for the women's tour especially with 27-year-old Sharapova, this year's French Open champion but a fourth-round loser at Wimbledon, still a significant force in the sport.

“When Sharapova is ready to give up her crown, Bouchard will be ready to take it,” Rupert Pratt of sports marketing agency Generate told the Daily Mail.

“There is no doubt she can earn tens of millions per year. Sharapova is at the top of her game commercially.

“As long as Bouchard keeps doing well she will keep growing in marketability. She is Canadian and if she can open up the North America market that is highly lucrative.”

Despite the comparisons being made with Sharapova, the Canadian said she was more influenced by US celebrity Oprah Winfrey and remains inspired by the former chat show queen's rags to riches story.

“She's a person I would love to meet. I think her story is really special. She came from nothing and built herself up to this huge empire and the richest woman in the world,” said Bouchard.

“I love those stories like that. Justin Bieber is another story like that. I just love the story of making yourself into something.

“I've worked really hard in my life. I appreciate other people who have done the same and have these amazing dreams and actually work hard and go out and achieve them. Especially when they come from really humble beginnings and have this positive attitude on life.”

Sapa-AFP


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