Canadian tennis player Eugenie Bouchard to join professional pickleball tour

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Eugenie Bouchard is taking her talents to the pickleball circuit.

The first Canadian tennis player to be ranked in the top 5 in singles, Bouchard is currently ranked 215th in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour.

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In 2014, Bouchard had a historic season for Canadian tennis, reaching the final at Wimbledon and the semifinals of the Australian and French Opens, but she has struggled to return to that peak and dealt with nagging injuries for the past several years.

Bouchard shared the news on social media, with the Carvana PPA Tour calling it “one of the biggest signings of the year.”

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It’s not clear if the 29-year-old Bouchard will be walking away from professional tennis, she’s posted nine wins and nine defeats this season, or if she’ll be competing in singles, doubles or mixed doubles in the PPA Tour.

Bouchard, who hails from Westmount, Que., and has represented Canada at the Olympics, finished last season on the WTA Tour ranked 323 in the world.

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Though it’s nearly 60 years old, pickleball has seen a surge in popularity over the past few years. The sport combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis, with players using a solid paddle and a perforated ball.

According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), pickleball has been the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. for the past three years running, seeing nearly 160 per cent growth over that time period.

There are believed to be about nine million pickleball players in the U.S., up from 4.8 million in 2022.

The sport has also been boosted by investments from the likes of NBA star LeBron James and former NFL quarterback Drew Brees, who now own stakes in pro teams.

Bouchard, with more than two million Instagram followers, immediately becomes one of the sport’s most well-known athletes.

She will officially join the PPA Tour in 2024.

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