Caroline Garcia was born on February 9th, 1995 in Lyon, France to a family of Algerian Jews who immigrated from Paris. Her younger sister, Sarah, also plays professional tennis and will join the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour as a singles player in 2016 after completing her time at the junior level. Caroline’s father, Henri, was a professional footballer for over 20 years and played as a striker for Olympique de Marseille and other clubs before becoming an insurance agent. Her mother, Brigitte, is one of her coaches after serving as a housewife throughout Caroline’s childhood.
When Garcia turned five years old in 2000, her parents enrolled both Garcia and her sister into local tennis clubs. Her father was known for having a big personality and charisma on the football pitch, but his relative lack of knowledge about tennis caused him to struggle as his daughters’ first coach. He says now that he regrets not hiring any help when Caroline was young because it would have allowed him to focus more on his football career. Garcia and her sister were already competing against older children in France before they began traveling to tournaments around the world.
Unlike many other tennis professionals, Caroline Garcia was not a teenage star. In fact, she didn’t even break into the top 100 as a teenager or as a young adult despite enjoying significant success in junior tournaments and showing great promise in practice matches. At 18 years old, she was ranked #162 on the WTA tour and still had a second-tier International Tennis Federation (ITF) ranking. Garcia entered some mid-level WTA tournaments while receiving wildcards into others, but she struggled to win any of them until 2014 when she began accumulating a few more notable wins. In June, she reached the semifinals of her first WTA Tour event at Clermont-Ferrand before losing to Irina Falconi in three sets. Garcia won just five more matches throughout the rest of 2014 and lost in qualifying for her final four tournaments at year’s end.
Caroline Garcia and Tennis
As a result, Garcia’s ranking dropped all the way to #193 by the end of 2014. She was disappointed with her results because she had been playing better than ever in practice and expected her first WTA final appearance to result in a push towards the top 100. Caroline says that she began questioning her talent after playing mostly Americans on the tour who were bigger, faster, and stronger than her. She says that she felt like an underdog throughout most of 2014 and struggled to make any adjustments against the top players because she was not used to competing at their level.
After finishing the year strong in qualifying matches, Garcia began 2015 by qualifying for the Australian Open main draw and upsetting #32 seed Lucie Safarova in round one. Her Australian Open run ended in the second round at the hands of eventual finalist, Ekaterina Makarova, but Garcia says her first main draw victory over a top 30 opponent gave her confidence to compete against all levels of players.