At the 2011 French Open, Andy Murray made a bold prediction. As a 17-year-old hit big against Maria Sharapova, Murray tweeted that the future was clear: this teenager—barely known by anyone outside of France—would be No. 1 in the world one day.
“U heard it here first,” Murray wrote.
Perhaps you remember that match. Caroline Garcia, somehow excellent without being flashy, led Sharapova 6–3, 4–1 in the second round, and her fans were feeling it. But like most attempts at an upset, this was the sign—maybe—of the future, not the present. Garcia was too young and too nervous. She lost the match and, for a long while, seemed like she would fail Murray’s words.
But if you look at Garcia now—age 24, bigger, stronger and more assertive—you would probably agree that Murray may soon be proven right. After years of struggle and nerves, Garcia is playing a lot like a future No. 1. She has newfound conviction and confidence, and last year she finished strong, winning back-to-back titles at big tournaments in Beijing and Wuhan while beating fi ve Top 10 players. She also reached the semifinals of the WTA Finals, including a win against eventual champion Caroline Wozniacki.
Garcia is not satisfied. She wants more—more wins, higher rankings and her first Grand Slam singles title. Unlike years past, winning is her chief goal—and she believes she can do it.
“That’s what drives me every single day,” Garcia said after her career-best season ended.
Garcia started playing at age five or six, she says, and advanced quickly. Her parents, Louis and Marylene, trained her in her youth and then, as a young pro, she had another coach. But unlike most pros, Garcia has since gone back to her parents for full-time training.
“We are always traveling together and we have a very strong connection,” Garcia says. “Our project is a family project and that’s the best adventure I could ask for.”
Her relationship with her parents has been criticized in France. So was her public split with doubles partner Kristina Mladenovic. The scars from those relationships seem to have solidifi ed her view of tennis in the spotlight, and the emotional problems it can cause.
“It’s a competition, you know?” Garcia says. “So you can be very nice and say hello to everyone, think about everything, but you know, it’s at the end always competition.”