Tennis stars Chris Evert, Eugenie Bouchard share experiences with local students

More than 100 local students from secondary schools and junior colleges got up close and personal with tennis legend Chris Evert and rising star Eugenie Bouchard at the ArtScience Museum on Monday morning.

Evert, an 18-time Grand Slam champion and Bouchard, who reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open last week, shared tips and their experiences as professionals with the students, many of them budding tennis players.

The duo are in Singapore to help launch the WTA Championships, the Women's Tennis Association's prestigious season-finale. The Republic is hosting the first of five editions from this year at the Singapore Sports Hub.

They drove home a message about the importance of getting involved in sports, emphasising on both the health and personal benefits of sport. Said Evert, 59: "Playing tennis is like life. You work, work, and work. You can lose, but you pick yourself up and go on the next day, and set new goals."

Added Bouchard, a 19-year-old from Canada: "Tennis has taught me that even if you lose, you can get back up. You'll always have another chance the next week at another tournament. You can do better, and improve."

Evert also touched on how much the game has evolved since her playing days. A tough day in the office, for instance, included nothing more than one or two hours on court, and an hour in the gym.

"We would have a steak and a baked potato before a match," she joked.

In Bouchard's case, however, an average day during off-season training involved no less than six hours of hard training, not including massages and recovery. Twelve hours of sleep, she added, was paramount for rest and recovery.

Both Evert and Bouchard, however, did not forget to pepper their hour-long interaction with the students with jokes and anecdotes.

When asked how she made the transition from being a junior player to the big stages, Evert said: "When I was a junior player... you mean like a zillion years ago?"

Bouchard, who with her good looks and potential has been tipped as tennis' next big thing, even sportingly entertained a question from a student about how she looks good on court.

She said: "The most important thing is the tennis. But I think it's fun to have different outfits, especially for girls. I wore this high-waist skirt at the Australian Open. Some people hated it, some loved it, but I loved that I could express myself on court."