PARIS • Tennis golden girl Eugenie Bouchard admitted yesterday that she has battled an eating disorder which caused alarming weight loss as she attempted to put her high-flying career back on track.
The 22-year-old Canadian became one of the WTA's most bankable stars in 2014 when she stormed to the Wimbledon final as well as the semi-finals of the Australian and French Opens.
But the confident, charismatic blonde then saw her career dive into a tailspin last year. First-round exits in Paris and Wimbledon were followed by a freak fall in the showers at the US Open which saw her play just one more match until the start of this season.
"I felt a lot of pressure and kind of this expectation if you win a match it's normal and if you lose it's a disaster," said Bouchard at Roland Garros yesterday. "Before matches I was very nervous and definitely had trouble eating. I just felt like it would come right back up.
"It's a difficulty I went through. And not just before matches, it happened to me at other meals as well."
She denied that she had been trying to lose weight on purpose as a way of sharpening and toning her body image. Even now, she still faces the prospect of having to force herself to eat.
It is all a long way from the dizzy success of 2014 when she ended the year at No. 7 in the world.
"I was just so stressed I was burning calories even more than I normally would, so it was hard to kind of intake enough to keep my weight up or even gain weight, which was the goal, to become stronger," she said.
"I feel like I learnt from it. I know now that, even if I feel sick, I have to force food down my throat.
"I feel like I've come out stronger and able to deal with a problem if it ever comes back to me again."
Bouchard, now at No. 47 in the world, made the Roland Garros second round yesterday with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Germany's Laura Siegemund.
She will face Timea Bacsinszky, the eighth-seeded Swiss who made the semi-finals last year, for a place in the last 32.
Bouchard admits that being reunited with former coach Nick Saviano, the man who guided her to her successes of 2014, has helped reboot her confidence on the court.
"He knows me so well. He understands when I'm going through difficulties. It's like he's inside my head," she said.