PARIS -- In 2016, Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic were the No.5 seeds at Roland Garros and became the first all-French duo to win the women's doubles title on home soil since 1971. Flash forward to 2022 and the formidable team, who had played together only four times since 2017, made good on their wildcard entry into the French Open to raise the trophy once again.
The French Open champions spoke to WTA Insider to detail their run to the title.
WTA Insider: What has been the most satisfying thing about today?
Garcia: I think it's that we have been in the present trying to really focus, stay calm when it was not going our way, not frustrated, trying to find something different and how we could change our plans to do something different.
Mladenovic: I'm going to go with the same thing because honestly, it cannot be an understatement. Being down 6-2 against such amazing players as they are, the most satisfying thing was really to stay focused, not freak out.
It's a big event. It's a final, huge crowd. We are at home and we are losing a set. We're like, OK, we stay there. We don't give up, we don't freak out. We stay calm. We keep trusting in ourselves. We talked, we communicate great. We try to find solutions together.
WTA Insider: I know you said this is completely different than 2016 and a different story, different places in your careers. What does this title mean to you individually? What do you see that it can have in terms of impact on your career, whether it is in doubles or singles going forward?
Garcia: I think it's completely different because, for myself, I was not really expecting myself to be in the final of doubles.
Mladenovic: Me neither. We needed actually a wildcard to be here.
Garcia: Yeah, we didn't play doubles together since the Australian Open.
On my side, I was just in time to get ready for Roland Garros. When we saw the draw and we saw like Alexandrova-Siegemund, it's like, 'It's a tough first round, it's not easy.' I think we were not expecting it at all. We just focused one match at a time and see what we could improve every time when we were losing the first set or down and everything.
So it's definitely a big surprise, because in 2016, we were in a different situation. We were both Top 10 in doubles. We were a big team so people were expecting us. It was not the case this year. I think neither did we.
In tennis, you have to take everything you can. A title in WTA, it's something very big. In Slams, it's even bigger. You never know when you are going to come back, and you really have to enjoy it and take all the positives you can.
Mladenovic: That's a very nice summary. We had some issues, both of us, with injuries. Caro was really last-minute ready. I have been dealing with also an issue for quite some time.
I'm kind of getting again in the groove, in the rhythm. We had tough opponents in singles. We wanted to go further. But once it was done, we kind of regrouped and we were like, OK, we are here together, let's work our way together through matches, to just improve ourselves, our game through doubles, but it's going to help for singles.
Like Caro said, it was really unexpected. We both didn't play much doubles the last couple months, even years, so we actually needed a wildcard to get here.
We just worked together match by match. I'm just very happy. A Grand Slam title, it's very, very unique, and I have been in a couple finals already, but you always enjoy it and go on the court, give your absolute best because that's such an amazing stage. You don't know if you're going to be there again.
WTA Insider: How was the celebration after the match?
Mladenovic: It was amazing. I actually felt sorry, at one moment. I was like, do I really go all the way up and just hug everybody? It's family and close friends, but at the end of the day, we are both home and it's quite a lot of people and we are super lucky to have that opportunity. When we are on the other Slams, it's not the same. You're just with your team.
It's lots of emotion, the crowd, the energy, it was just amazing to witness that and to have this experience on court. We had an amazing team as a challenge to face. We're just extremely happy and proud to actually be the winner of that day. To have all these amazing memories is just something unique.
WTA Insider: So is this a one-time pairing or will you play through to the end of the year? You're now in with a chance to qualify for the WTA Finals.
Mladenovic: We still haven't talked about it!
Garcia: We had a deal to play from the Australian Open until Wimbledon. It's just we both have been injured, so we couldn't do it. After six months, we were like, OK, let's talk about the second part. So it's obviously not here yet.
Mladenovic: Now it is! Now we need to talk (laughs). What are we doing now?
Garcia: Obviously, it's always a game-changer when you win a Slam it's so many points. But actually, I think what was important for us in this week is that we were focused in the present and we were not expecting anything.
We definitely will play Wimbledon and then looks like it's positive. We will keep going because it's a lot of fun and we play good matches together and we'll see where it brings us.