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Masters: 'Princess' Bouchard closes in on fairytale ending

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Mark Masters
7/4/2014 10:33:35 PM
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LONDON – Following an early-round win at this year's Wimbledon, Genie Bouchard brought a stuffed Cinderella doll to her news conference. A fan had tossed it to her. 

"I like to think that's me," Bouchard said sheepishly with a smile while looking down at the blonde-haired doll in her hand. "Someone gave me it, because I'm a princess."

Bouchard was named after royalty: Princess Eugenie, the daughter of Prince Andrew, to be precise. And she admits she does have some "princess-like tendencies" that go beyond just the name. 

"You can ask my coach or my parents or anyone: I can be a princess," Bouchard admitted eliciting laughs from a throng of reporters. "I mean, they're not horrible, but I can be moody in the morning. I'm not so much of a morning person. My fitness trainer carries my tennis bag around, but that's so I don't get tired, because I want to save all my energy for the match. 

"I mean, I can demand a few things once in a while, but I do it with love," the 20-year-old said with a big grin. 

Bouchard's Wimbledon campaign has all the elements of a fairytale story. Even a platonic Prince Charming has emerged in the form of an American television star. Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, has travelled to the All-England Club to support Bouchard. 

"It's my favourite show," Bouchard explained. "It's a comedy, you know. For me, so many unexpected things, you just burst out laughing. It's a nice way to relax and have a good time. It's less stressful to watch than, say, like a movie on a war or something. It's pretty relaxing, which I love. Jim Parsons' character, Sheldon, is my favourite character. He's so nerdy. I love the character. He's so smart and set in his ways. 

"I think the writing of the show is pretty spectacular."

Considering how much Bouchard likes the hit sitcom her agent decided to reach out to Parsons last year and invite him to Wimbledon. Parsons was touched, but couldn't attend due to work obligations. However, he started watching Bouchard's matches and writing her emails after each one. They've become friends through this pen-pal relationship. 

And now Parsons is finally here in London. 

"It's a random pairing, right?" Bouchard said again with a huge smile. "Well, it's been a year since we've been in contact. Since then he's watched pretty much every match he could watch or else he would follow on live scores. He's emailed me after every single match I've played. He's more positive than all of my team combined. So it's a refreshing change to get a nice email with exclamation marks and smiley faces. I'm such a big fan of his show. He says he's such a big fan of me. So it's really cool that he's here to finally watch me live.
            
"We talk about, you know, the mental aspect in tennis. He says how it's similar to him acting. He has to be in the moment on set and all these things. It's interesting to see how similar the mentality is in different careers."

WATCH: Jim Parsons explains how he and Bouchard became friends

With a Prince Charming on site, Bouchard has lived a somewhat charmed life at Wimbledon this year. A seemingly difficult draw opened up a bit when Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova were eliminated one round before they were to face Bouchard. 

On Monday, Bouchard was scheduled to play on Centre Court, which has a retractable roof, and was able to complete her fourth-round match while all her rivals sat and waited due to a lengthy rain delay. 

"I'm happy I got the experience of playing under the famous roof," Bouchard quipped that day. "I follow the roof on Twitter (@WimbledonRoof) and he's kind of funny. I hope he's proud of how I played today. He was looking down. Hopefully he enjoyed the match."

The rest of the field didn't find it so funny as every other woman in the draw was forced to play on Tuesday while Bouchard rested up. 

Then in the semifinals, opponent Simona Halep injured her foot early in the first set, somewhat limiting her mobility and contributing to her defeat. 

Everything seems to be falling into place and a lifelong ambition is within reach. 

"I started playing tennis at five years old," Bouchard said on Friday. "Soon after, you know, it was my dream to become a professional tennis player. I was very young when I decided I wanted to do it. I was nine. Since that age I dreamt of winning a Grand Slam."

On Saturday, Bouchard gets that chance. Standing in her way is No. 6 seed Petra Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion. But Bouchard is a Wimbledon champion as well. It has been just two short years since the Canadian claimed the junior title here. 

Bouchard likes the grass, which accentuates her aggressive game. She likes the Royal Box, the tradition and even the strict all-white clothing policy at the All England Club. This is her favourite Grand Slam and Bouchard seems to have the crowd on her side in each match she plays. 

Considering all of the above, it would be fitting if this was the stage where all her hard work pays off. 

"It's been a long time in the making, you know, for it to finally come together, all the hard work, the talent I know I have, the effort I put in, you know, for it to produce results on the match court. That's happened this year, but, you know, it's been a long time in the making. I wouldn't say it's an overnight thing," Bouchard explained.

"I've just been believing in myself more and more and meeting the challenges I faced. I played on the professional tour for a year and I was improving as I was playing that year; the same this year. So every time I have a challenge, I just try to get better. It's really helped."

Eugenie Bouchard (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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