National News

Bouchard's Wimbledon loss may cost millions

By Ethan Lou, The Canadian Press

TORONTO - Eugenie Bouchard's loss to Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova in the Wimbledon women's final on Saturday may have cost her millions in sponsorship income, according to experts who say the Canadian tennis star would have landed numerous seven-figure deals had she won.

"Champions (project) hard work, humility, perseverence, and those are all qualities and attributes other brands like to associate with," said Vijay Setlur, who teaches sports marketing at York University.

While the Westmount, Que., native did reach the final — the furthest a Canadian has ever gone at the world's most prestigious tennis competition — it only showed the 20-year-old has potential, and that is not enough, Setlur said.

"Once that potential is realized, then more brands will present offers or partnerships because you're dealing now with an athlete that's proven."

While Bouchard has never won a Grand Slam — the four biggest tennis tournaments, which include her latest — she has reached the semifinal two other times and also won the 2012 Wimbledon junior competition.

Cary Kaplan, president and owner of the marketing firm Cosmo Sports, agreed that Bouchard will need a championship to "catapult" her earnings potential, but predicted her future is bright.

Bouchard's marketing appeal is not just the result of her run at Wimbledon, and goes beyond her performance on the tennis court.

"She's charismatic," he said. "She is very focused. You don't have the impression that she will wilt away."

Bouchard's current sponsors include Coca-Cola Canada, sportswear giant Nike, French tennis firm Babolat, Rogers Communications (TSX:RCI) and Ontario packaged chicken producer Pinty’s Delicious Foods.

While the deals' financial details are not publicly known, Bouchard is expected to get $1.6 million in prizes for her performance on Saturday. Her agent did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Despite the fact Bouchard did not capture the big prize at Wimbledon, being a runner-up would also significantly boost her earnings in future contracts, said Richard Powers, a University of Toronto sports marketing professor.

Sponsorship contracts usually come with performance bonuses, and now that Bouchard has proven herself a serious Grand Slam contender, she will likely be able to command a higher rate, he said, adding that she is young, and has been training at a high level since she was 12.

"She has the potential to win and she wants to win, and she's not content at being runner-up," Powers said.

Bouchard has another chance this summer to give her marketability a big boost with the next big event on the tennis calendar, the U.S. Open.

"She's got a great opportunity coming up in August," Powers said. "Watch the hype."

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