World No.4 Caroline Garcia Opens Up About Life Struggle With Bulimia While Competing 

As she looks to compete at the Australian Open women’s singles tournament next week, Caroline Garcia has opened up about her battle with bulimia and the mental and physical toll it had on her body.

With the 2023 Australian Open kicking off January 16, the world’s top athletes now find themselves preparing for what will be a gruelling schedule as they come up against opponents unfamiliar, highly ranked, and whose game play reveals little by way of weakness. For many, the event inspires nervousness and a sense of anxiety, but for 29-year-old French star, Caroline Garcia, her personal journey is such that taking on the best players in the sport pales in comparison. 

After a sensational end to the 2022 season which saw Garcia emerge as one of the standout WTA players after reaching the US Open semi-finals and charging to the world’s top five after a victorious end at the WTA Finals, it’s easy to think Garcia’s journey has been an easy one, punctuated with significant highs that have no doubt outshone the lows. But as the young star revealed in an emotional Instagram post, the wild ride to a world ranking of No. 4 has instead been difficult and filled with “all kinds of emotions.”

“I cried from pain, sadness and joy in 11 months. But I learned so much about myself as a player and a person,” said Garcia. 

In April of 2022, Garcia was sidelined due to a persistent foot injury that essentially saw her have to learn to walk again. After two weeks with crutches, there was some worry when Garcia discarded them to find walking a strange experience. “When I took them off the walking was very strange,” she told Sydney Morning Herald. “When I started to walk again I would not say I panicked but I texted my physio, I was like, ‘I do not know how to walk anymore!’”

Garcia added, “She’s like, ‘don’t worry, it’s going to be fine.’ And then the next morning she saw me coming and she’s like, ‘yeah, that’s pretty bad actually.’ It took two or three days [to fix], not very long. But it was a good experience, a good lesson.”

The greatest achievement for Garcia though, wasn’t overcoming her foot injury and fighting to get fit once again for the professional circuit, but instead coming to terms with the effect of an eating disorder which she says was largely exacerbated by the ongoing pressure of competing at the top level in tennis. “Several times I was invaded by doubts, [and] let myself be overwhelmed by the negative,” she said in a Tweet. 

“I questioned the universe, told myself that maybe my luck had passed, that I would never succeed again. I’ve had sleepless nights, binge-eating, cried in my hotel room, cried on tennis courts…I suffered physically and mentally.” 

caroline garcia

Prior to competing at the WTA 500 event this week in Adelaide, Garcia discussed the complexities of eating disorders and the struggle that presented in her own life as she was forced to navigate this “tough relationship” with food. “I think in life everyone at some point is going through some things, or a little bit unhappy or unhealthy…and you have to find your own solution,” she told reporters. 

“At one point in my career I was not reaching the goals I wanted. I was less happy playing tennis because I was not winning matches. I was feeling pain in my body and feeling kind of alone, even if I was never really alone,” Garcia explained. “Sometimes you just feel alone in your body and you need something to fill you up. I went through over-food [over-eating] and sometimes it was not very healthy. It was a tough relationship sometimes.”

Since then, Garcia has worked to find perspective. “I learned to let go, I learned to accept my mistakes, the unexpected, to delegate, to trust myself, to follow my instincts, than [that] I can eat a pizza from time to time, it was not going to change the result of the next day,” she expressed in a Tweet. “If I was dying to eat one ‘that was good too.’”

While Garcia has said that her battle with binge-eating is much better now, it’s still something she occasionally struggles with as some days are more challenging than others. “But I am more aware of it. I talked about it. And I try to fight it with different options,” she said. 

“Sometimes you went through that when you’re more alone in your room…so when there is bad time you try to avoid [that – being alone]. [I try] to be with my team and to be with my friend[s], and that’s already helped me. If one day it’s happening, it’s happening [and don’t let it bother you]. It was just one night, one time. And just have to find your rhythm again.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder or body image issues, help is available. Contact the Butterfly Foundation on 1800 33 4673 for free and confidential support. If you’re in crisis, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. 

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