TENNIS ace Caroline Garcia has opened up on her “uncontrollable” battle with bulimia.
And she revealed she “took refuge in food” and felt “empty and sad” as the eating disorder gripped her life.
French tennis star Caroline Garcia opened up on her battle with bulimiaCredit: Getty
Frenchwoman Garcia, 29, was tipped by Andy Murray to become the best tennis player in the world way back in 2011 when she was just 17.
But she has struggled with her relationship with food in recent years and discussed her bulimia difficulties in an honest interview with L’Equipe.
The world No4, who beat Emma Raducanu at Wimbledon and won the year-end WTA Finals in 2022, said: “Everyone is different. Some don’t eat anymore, I was the opposite: I took refuge in food. These were times 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 on the court, no longer 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.
“When you’re alone, it’s harder to control. And in tennis, you spend a lot of time alone in your room. That’s often how it happened.
“Afterwards, I started talking about it, to my relatives, to friends, to my parents. You begin to understand. You realize that if this happens to you, it’s not the end of the world.
“Sometimes it’s just fatigue that makes your body crave sugar. It’s not going to change your life either.
“Sometimes it was inexplicable. I needed to fill myself up to make up for the defeat and the pain.”
Garcia has made progress but added cravings do still happen, but she is able to “accept it more and feel a lot less guilty”.
The tennis star – who reached world No4 in 2018 before being troubled by an ongoing foot injury – continued: “Now, if for two days, I want a pizza, I’ll take my pizza and it will stop obsessing me.
These days it’s better… I manage to have fun when I feel it
“I had a hard time accepting the fact that it wasn’t going to transform my body.
“I allow myself a small dessert from time to time rather than thinking about it all week and ending up completely cracking.
“Defeat became an excuse to allow everything to me. This is much less the case today.
“In the players’ restaurant, there are plenty of temptations, it’s not easy. You learn about yourself as you go.
What is bulimia?
BULIMIA is an eating disorder and mental health condition.
People who have bulimia go through periods where they eat a lot of food in a very short amount of time (binge eating) and then make themselves sick, use laxatives (medicine to help them poo) or do excessive exercise, or a combination of these, to try to stop themselves gaining weight.
Anyone can get bulimia, but it is more common in young people aged 13 to 17.
“In fact for me, an athlete needs to be fit. This is the image you need to send back. At one point, I was pretty hard on myself.
“These days it’s better. I manage to have fun when I feel it. If I want to eat that, I do it knowing I’m doing it. And I see that the next day, it’s fine.
“Sometimes you need proof that it’s not going to do anything to your body. For example, I wanted and found a gluten-free dough. I was so happy with my pizza! And I spent two-and-a-half hours on the court the next day and won.”
Garcia will be among the top seeds at this month’s Australian Open – with Iga Swiatek the heavy favourite to claim a third Grand Slam in the last four.
But British star Raducanu will be desperate to battle back and be fit for the tournament in Melbourne, which kicks off on January.
The Brit retired in tears from her ASB Classic match in Auckland after rolling her ankle.