Not that long ago, former WTA chair"man" Stacey Allaster was so enthusiastic about Genie Bouchard and her Army that she offered to pay the Genie Army's expenses as they traveled in support of the WTA's Golden Girl. It took people like us on the Internet to point out the obvious to Allaster (the same person who wanted to create a body-invasive grunt-o-meter to further abuse female athletes)--that such a move was unethical.
Oh, how times have changed. Last week, the USTA decided to comment--right before the U.S. Open began--on the lawsuit Bouchard filed against them following last year's Open. With no settlement in sight, the USTA's managing director of corporate communications, Chris Widmaier, issued this statement: "It is truly unfortunate that a year after her accident, Genie’s focus is on matters other than playing to her best ability."
How low can you go?
Bouchard's 2015 season was already at a low point. She was already dealing with injuries, and perhaps greatest of all, the injury inflicted on her in the 2014 Wimbledon final by the "Lethal Petra" version of Petra Kvitova. Following that final, the Canadian star went into a steep decline, but had begun to find herself again in the summer of 2015.
Then, one night during the U.S. Open, Bouchard stepped into the locker room, which had been mopped and not dried, and was left unattended with the lights off. She slipped and fell, causing her to sustain a concussion whose symptoms affected her for months. She filed a lawsuit against the USTA for negligence, and--in a ploy to assure everyone that the Canadian player would get "fair" treatment at the 2016 Open--the official statement contained Widmaier's blatant insult.
This brings me to the people posting on various parts of the Internet who are blaming Bouchard because she had a "bad" season, because she has been engaged in off-court activities, and because "no one else fell and slipped."
It doesn't matter whether you "like" (have you even met her?) Bouchard. It doesn't matter that Bouchard has more money than you do. It doesn't matter what her other activities are--when you can't play tennis, you'd better have some other activities, and anyway--the WTA loved it when Bouchard was doing interviews and photoshoots in her "stardom" days. And those activities are part of a professional tennis player's career, anyway. And no, no one else slipped and fell because no one else entered the locker room that night--duh.
Negligence is negligence. There are several things the USTA could have done. They could have posted signs warning players that the locker room floor was wet. They could have locked the door. They could have, at the very least, turned on the lights. But they did none of those things.
In the United States, we are pretty dedicated to blaming the victim, and this is a prime example of just that. All Bouchard was doing was her job. It's especially unfortunate that a player already dealing with so much disappointment and stress had to slip and fall and sustain a concussion because of someone else's negligence. And the USTA, eager to display its "fairness" toward her, still found a way to blame her for her misfortune.
Genie Bouchard lost in the first round today. That should give the USTA plenty of ammunition against her, should the organization choose to continue to blame her for its own negligence. The USTA's statement about youth says: "Players learn responsibility and sportsmanship from a young age." Want to teach kids about responsibility? Then take some.