- Caroline Garcia is a leading tennis player
- Frenchwoman also loves football and Lyon in particular
- Chatting to FIFA.com, she shares her passion and gives her predictions for The Best
The likes of Wendie Renard, Eugenie Le Sommer, Camille Abily, Louisa Necib and Amandine Henry have been putting Olympique Lyonnais on the map since 2007, when the club began an incredible sequence of 14 consecutive French league titles, interspersed with seven UEFA Champions League crowns. But the city of Lyon has also given us another champion of French sport: Caroline Garcia.
Although born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye (near Paris), the 27-year-old tennis player claims to be Lyonnaise, having grown up there. Garcia is a household name in women’s tennis, having been France’s top player between 2016 and 2020. And while she has already won eight titles in the singles and seven in women’s doubles on the WTA tour, she is also a massive fan of football and of Lyon’s women’s team in particular.
With just over a week to go until The Best FIFA Football Awards™, where her favourite team could again feature prominently, FIFA.com spoke to former world number four.
FIFA.com: Caroline, what place does football have in your busy professional life?
Caroline Garcia: I generally enjoy sport, but football is one of my passions! I’m Lyonnaise, and footballing culture is part and parcel of the city. My adolescence coincided with a great period for Olympique Lyonnais, a time when they dominated the league and made us dream in the Champions League!
How are your football skills?
I'm very clumsy! I could use some intensive training. Unfortunately, I don't often get to play, but I’d like to have more time for it and to improve. It’s a very different sport from mine, first of all because it’s team game. In football, you need your team-mates to perform, and if you have an off-day, you can count on your colleagues... Sharing the emotions of winning with a team must be pretty amazing, as I found out at the Fed Cup in 2019! Those memories are unforgettable!
What’s your fondest footballing memory?
I vividly remember two very intense experiences from 2017: the finals of the Coupe de France and the Champions League that Lyon contested. Especially the Champions League one. It took place during Roland Garros fortnight but, as I’d won my game that earlier that day, I was able to watch it that evening. I was very tense and remember my father telling me not to get so worked up!
Obviously, I also remember the final of the 2018 World Cup. I was with all my family in front of a giant screen we’d put in a garage. It was really moving to experience this moment together, and we were so happy and proud of this French team. It’s at moments like these that you realise sport’s ability to unite people and generate powerful emotions.
When and how did you fall in love with OL?
I left Saint-Germain for Lyon as a one-year-old, so I really grew up with the culture of Olympique Lyonnais all around me. The club closest to my heart is OL. Then comes PSG!
Who was your favourite player when you were growing up?
Juninho! He was amazing. We eagerly awaited all his free-kicks as you knew they were goalscoring opportunities!
You then became interested in women's football...
Enormously! I had the pleasure of meeting a few players, after which I followed their results with a different perspective. There’s more emotion involved when I follow them. They're superb girls! I love the audacity and attacking nature of their play. They're always lively games, with goals!
Lyon keep winning title after title, claiming everything again this year. As a top athlete, do you know the secrets of such consistency?
They’ve been incredible for several years now. That kind of consistency is very rare, although perhaps underappreciated. They’re always the team to beat, and they respond all the time. They recently lost a game to PSG, but that was the first for how long? That’s not to mention the fact that PSG are among the top four teams in Europe. I think they’re very professional in their approach to each game. Every time they play, they’re at full tilt and always looking to improve their game. They have a lot of ambition and want to continue making history in their sport.
Are there any players that have made a special impression on you?
Ada Hegerberg and Eugenie Le Sommer. I think Ada's amazing. Despite her young age (Ed's note: 25 years), she’s already had an incredible career. She's a genuine inspiration and a voice for players and young girls who want to become champions! I hope she’ll be back in action soon. She's a real star. As for Eugenie Le Sommer, she’s a formidable striker who, despite being relatively small for her position, has really established herself as a finisher.
The Best FIFA Football Awards for 2020 will take place soon. Have you any predictions?
This year was really unusual, and I had a hard time following. In the men’s category, I’d say Robert Lewandowski or Cristiano Ronaldo, and in the women’s, I’d go for Wendie Renard and Lucy Bronze.