World No. 4 tennis player Caroline Garcia has opened up about her “uncontrollable” struggles with bulimia and binge eating during the 2022 season.
In an interview with French outlet L’Equipe on Thursday, Garcia said she “took refuge in food” when she felt “empty and sad” to “fill a void” when she wasn’t winning or was physically hurting, the NY Post reports.
Watch Tennis Live with beIN SPORTS on Kayo. Live Coverage of ATP + WTA Tour Tournaments including Every Finals Match. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
“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.”
Garcia, who reached the semi-finals of the U.S. Open last season, said sharing her experience has helped and now she better manages her relationship with food.
“Since I’ve been enjoying everything around tennis a little more and taking more time for myself, it happens less,” she said. “And when it does happen, I accept it more and I feel less guilty. Now, if for two days I feel like having a pizza, I’ll take my pizza and it will stop obsessing me.
“I’m more of a weigh myself type of person, I’m more of a gram person. At one point I was quite hard on myself. I had fallen into excess. Today, it’s better. I can enjoy myself when I feel like it. Sometimes you need proof that it won’t do anything to your body.
“For example, I ate a pizza the day before my match against [Daria] Kasatkina [at the WTA Finals]. I wanted to eat it. I found a gluten-free dough. I was so happy with my pizza! And I lasted two and a half hours on the court the next day.”
Garcia took time off in March and April to address a lingering right foot injury, which she underwent surgery and relearned how to walk.
The 29-year-old appeared reinvented upon her return to the court and finished the year ranked No. 4 in the world after being 75th in June. She won five titles in the 2022 season, including the WTA Finals and the doubles title at the French Open.
In a November note on Twitter, Garcia got candid about her relationship with food and binge eating while discussing the silver lining of her injury.
“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 ogling to change the result of the next day, if I was dying to eat one ‘that was good too.’”
Garcia is slated to compete at the Australian Open which kicks off on January 16.
This article originally appeared on the NY Post and was reproduced with permission.