Caroline Garcia opens up on off-court battle ahead of Australian Open

Sleepless nights and a gruelling recovery from surgery were far from the biggest challenges Caroline Garcia overcame in 2022.

Caroline Garcia spreads her arms in celebration after winning the WTA Finals.
Caroline Garcia has revealed a hidden battle with binge eating that she struggled with for much of the 2022 season. (Photo by Ryan LIM / AFP) (Photo by RYAN LIM/AFP via Getty Images)

World No.4 Caroline Garcia has revealed the difficult battle she faced away from the court throughout 2022, describing an 'uncontrollable' struggle with bulimia and binge eating. The 29-year-old was a semi-finalist at the US Open last year, but says her life was dramatically impacted by the lengthy struggle to deal with what was happening.

A foot injury that had troubled her for some time required surgery in the early stages of 2022, with Garcia having to learn how to walk again as a result. Unbeknownst to anyone however, at the same time and leading up to her surgery, Garcia said she had been 'taking refuge' in food, with the grind of the tour becoming increasingly stressful.

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In an interview with L'Equipe, Garcia said 'moments of crisis' would lead to to food, only for that to be a brief respite from the enduring stress around her. While her recovery from injury was brutal, Garcia said it ultimately lead her to develop a much healthier understanding of what was going on - sparking a rise from 75th in the world rankings in June to fourth by the end of the year.

“Some people don’t go out to eat anymore, but for me it was the opposite: I took refuge in food,” Garcia said. “Those were moments of crisis. You feel so empty, so sad, that you need to fill yourself up. It was the distress of not being able to do what I wanted to do on the court, not winning and suffering physically.

“Eating calmed me down for a few minutes. We all know it doesn’t last, but it was an escape. It’s uncontrollable. Afterwards, I started talking about it, to my relatives, to friends, to my parents. You start to understand. You realise that if it happens to you, it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes it’s just tiredness that makes your body need sugar.”

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Part of this improvement was moving away from a mindset in which Garcia said she would weigh herself on a daily basis, leading to her being overly hard on herself for what she perceived as negative changes. Now, Garcia says, she has a much better understanding of what will and won't affect her performance on court.

She won five titles in 2022, most notably the 2022 WTA Finals, as well as a doubles title at the French Open. In a post to Twitter back in November, she credited her success in the second half of the year to feeling more 'liberated' on the court.

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“I’ve had sleepless nights, binge eating, cried in my hotel room, cried on tennis courts, been on crutches, swore, relearned to walk, I struggled to find shoes, I suffered physically and mentally,” Garcia wrote.

“This injury allowed me to play more liberated, I learned to let go, I learned to accept my mistakes, the unexpected, to delegate, to trust myself, to follow my instincts, than I can eat a pizza from time to time, it was not going to change the result of the next day, if I was dying to eat one ‘that was good too.’”

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