The thing about the print magazine format is the lead time.
When Genie Bouchard posed for some incredible photos in the California desert two months ago, there had been only a few hints that her career would be going through a rough patch.
But this, of course, wasn't about the tennis. It was about promoting the Genie Bouchard brand.
Bouchard is the cover subject for the summer 2015 issue of the Canadian fashion magazine Flare (which, it should be mentioned, is owned by Rogers, a Bouchard sponsor and also the title sponsor of the big WTA Tour event Bouchard will headline this summer in Toronto). So it's perfect synergy for everyone. The photos are stunning; Bouchard fans will be thrilled.
The problem is the puff piece that inevitably accompanies these photo shoots. Reading it now, after Bouchard's on-court struggle against Barbora Stycova and her early elimination in Madrid, it just seems, well, a bit awkward.
None of that is Bouchard's fault, of course. She was just being a pro, being cooperative and giving them what they wanted.
The lead paragraph reads thusly:
"Eugenie Bouchard lopes across the Palm Springs, Calif., desert in four-inch-high gladiator stilettos, the sun bearing down on her. I’m watching from the sidelines, hoping desperately that FLARE won’t be responsible for spraining the most precious ankles in Canada."
It takes off from there.
The number of errors (of both fact and omission) is glaring. There's no point in re-iterating them all here. (Click here to read the story). But it refers to Bouchard on more than one occasion as having an "aggressive net game". It describes the Genie Army as a "devoted club of mostly university boys (that) flies across the world to see her play (it happened once). And it describes her travelling "mini-entourage" as including coach Sam Sumyk, a massage therapist, a physiotherapist and a fitness coach. (In fact, only Sumyk and fitness coach Scott Byrnes have been traveling with her).
There is a hint of Bouchard's post-tennis career plans:
"She might become an air traffic controller, because, as she puts it, 'it’s super high-stress, and I can deal with high-pressure situations. I think it would be super intense and exciting, so I’d study anything to get into that. Maybe when I’m 30, I’ll be that old person in university walking around making friends with 20-year-olds.”
The story also details what Bouchard eats for breakfast, that she has no hobbies (no time!), that she likes to play board games with her siblings and go to the mall with her friends.
There are revisits of Bouchard's previous quotes – about the Sharapova comparisons, about "Twirl-Gate" at the Australian Open.
"I’ve always had this inner confidence, this inner belief,” she tells me as we chat before the shoot. “Any successful run I have is never a surprise, because I put in 10 years of hard work.”
On the Wimbledon final: “I’m very hard on myself. Sometimes too hard on myself. When I lost in the Wimbledon finals, I was so sad, I cried. I had the runner-up trophy! It’s still a great accomplishment, but I was so mad. Everyone told me, ‘Genie, you had a great two weeks. Come on.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, but I didn’t win the title. I don’t deserve any of this.’ My goal is to always win the title.”
“I’m tired of it,” sighs Bouchard, referring to the incessantly drawn comparison (to Sharapova). “When I was ranked 100 and it was my first year on the tour, it was a compliment,” she says, pausing to consider her next words. “I mean, it’s still a compliment. She’s a great champion, but I’m my own person. I just want to be Genie and no one else.”
There is some condemnation of how commentators "always" point out Bouchard's striking good looks (failing to grasp the irony that it is precisely this that has put Bouchard on the cover of Flare magazine, with thousands of words devoted to burnishing her image).
And then, there's this:
"Bouchard’s attitude is in line with champions like Suzanne Lenglen, the French star who won 31 titles from 1914 to 1926 and was dubbed “La Divine” by the press for both her skill and on-court dressing."
(Clearly the writer didn't do much research into Lenglen's life. Goodness).
In the end, it's the type of spread that Bouchard fans will feast on. And it's the type of spread that Bouchard's detractors will point to as another example of her focus being off the court instead of on the court.
What will the "undecideds" think? Well, we'll probably see a cross-section in the comments section below.
Did we mention the photos are absolutely SPECTACULAR? They probably should have stopped there.