The grand fin­ish

Amer­i­can leg­end and Cana­dian new­comer turn up the heat for Sin­ga­pore’s WTa Cham­pi­onships sea­son fi­nale coup.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - PEOPLE - By RAJES PAUL star2@thes­ Pho­tos by S.S. KANESAN

Ev­er­green Chris evert is a leg­end in women’s ten­nis. Bud­ding eu­ge­nie Bouchard is a promis­ing new star.

Late last month though, all their charm on court and im­pres­sive achieve­ments were put aside tem­po­rar­ily when the 18 grand Slam win­ner evert and reign­ing Aus­tralian Open semi-fi­nal­ist Bouchard bat­tled off the court – by whip­ping up their own bowls of Sin­ga­pore’s most loved dessert – the ice ka­cang.

Amer­i­can evert was gen­er­ous with the sweet corn as she piled it up on her shaved ice moun­tain – mixed with coloured syrups and con­densed milk.

Mean­while, Cana­dian Bouchard just dumped it all in her bowl – the red beans, at­tap chee (palm seeds), lengkong (grass jelly) and cen­dol (green jelly) – to come out with the sweet­est dessert.

It was a pic­ture of per­fect fun en­joyed by two beau­ti­ful ladies at the “Sa­tay at San Ma­rina Bay” food court.

But their ap­pear­ance in Sin­ga­pore was more than just to show who was bet­ter in mix­ing the lo­cal flavoured ice ka­cang.

The duo, who have graced the ten­nis court from com­pletely dif­fer­ent eras, were in Sin­ga­pore to help launch the WTA Cham­pi­onships, the Women’s Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion’s pres­ti­gious sea­son fi­nale.

In part­ner­ship with Sin­ga­pore Tourism Board and Sin­ga­pore Sports Coun­cil (SSC), the WTA Cham­pi­onships will be held at the newly-built state-of-the-art fa­cil­ity Sin­ga­pore Sports Hub on Oct 17-26. It marks the first time in the his­tory of the cham­pi­onships that a city in Asia-Pa­cific will host the pres­ti­gious event.

The two ten­nis stars were in­volved in a cou­ple of talks, but prob­a­bly the most in­spir­ing mo­ment of the visit was when they met 100 lo­cal stu­dents from lo­cal schools and col­leges at the Art Sci­ence Mu­seum.

In a lively, fun and no-holds­barred ses­sion, evert and Bouchard shared tips and their ex­tra­or­di­nary ex­pe­ri­ences as pro­fes­sion­als, which left many of the wide-eyed ten­nis star wannabes in­spired, en­thralled and daz­zled.

When asked whether it was her first trip to Sin­ga­pore, evert, who is now a coach, com­men­ta­tor and men­tor, broke the ice with an an­swer that drew much laugh­ter.

“I have been here once – maybe 25 years ago. I played against Martina (navratilova) in an ex­hi­bi­tion match.

“You chil­dren have no idea who I am, right?” she quipped.

It was a funny state­ment, but rather an im­por­tant one for evert – as most of the chil­dren in the au­di­ence were not even born when she dom­i­nated the game in the 1970s and 1980s. The 59-year-old evert won a to­tal of 154 sin­gles ti­tles, which is the sec­ond most in WTA his­tory and she spent 260 weeks at the no. 1 spot, and she is a 18-time grand Slam cham­pion along with navratilova (only St­effi graf has more Open era Slam ti­tles with 22).

The Florida-born evert won at least one grand Slam per year for 13 years (1974-1986); reached the semi-fi­nals 52 times in 56 grand Slams to un­der­line her con­sis­tency; and one of the 10 women in his­tory to com­plete a ca­reer grand Slam, do­ing so at the 1982 Aus­tralian Open.

She how­ever, stayed rel­e­vant with the kids.

“now, you should know this pretty lady be­side me ... eu­ge­nie. She is from your era,” said a smil­ing evert while in­tro­duc­ing the 19-year-old Bouchard, who made a sen­sa­tional break­through by reach­ing the semi­fi­nals of the Aus­tralian Open last month be­fore bow­ing out to even­tual cham­pion Li na of China.

The slim and slen­der Bouchard with strik­ing com­plex­ion was only the sec­ond Cana­dian af­ter 30 years to reach the semi-fi­nals (Aus­tralian Open). The 2013 new­comer of the Year is now dubbed as the fu­ture star.

“At this age, her ma­tu­rity in the game is un­be­liev­able. When I com­men­tated about her last year, I said that she is the fu­ture. now, I think, she is present, she has ar­rived,” said evert.

evert added that the re­cent rise of many young play­ers has sparked up the women’s world ten­nis game. “eu­ge­nie, Sloane (Stephens), Madi­son (Keys) are play­ers be­low 20 and then, we have those in their mid 20s like Maria (Shara­pova), Ana (Ivanovic), Sa­man­tha (Sto­sur). There are those in their early 30s like Li na and Ser­ena Wil­liams,” she said.

“Li na was the great win­ner of the Aus­tralian Open. Her win is great for Asia and now, thanks to her, Asia is grow­ing to be an epi­cen­tre for ten­nis. Play­ers from three dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions and from all part of the world are keep­ing the com­pe­ti­tion so keen.

“It is hard to pre­dict the win­ners now and I am lov­ing it. Imag­ine when the top eight bat­tles it out at the WTA Cham­pi­onships – ev­ery match in ev­ery round will be like a fi­nal.”

evert, who is the am­bas­sador for WTA and runs an academy for ju­niors in Florida, said that she had great re­spect for the ten­nis play­ers of this era as the sport has evolved so much.

“How ten­nis has changed! When I was play­ing long, long time ago, Bil­lie Jean King in­spired me. We played us­ing wooden rac­quets – any­one of you have played with it be­fore?” she asked as the au­di­ence chuck­led.

“It was a dif­fer­ent train­ing style. We used to be happy with three hours of train­ing, but now it is more about power, ath­leti­cism and it is

Cool as ice: amer­i­can leg­end Chris evert (left) and young Cana­dian star eu­ge­nie bouchard show­ing off their self-made ice ka­cang in Sin­ga­pore re­cently. both were in Sin­ga­pore to pro­mote the WTa Cham­pi­onships there in Oc­to­ber.

bouchard tak­ing a photo with her young fans af­ter shar­ing her ex­pe­ri­ence as a pro­fes­sional ten­nis player in Sin­ga­pore re­cently.

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