Don’t worry if you’re not big on sports stories; this is, ultimately, a heart-filled novel about an iconic and persevering father and daughter.”—TIME
“Gorgeous. The kind of sharp, smart, potent book you have to set aside every few pages just to catch your breath. I'll take a piece of Carrie Soto forward with me in life and be a little better for it.”—Emily Henry
“Another ace by Taylor Jenkins Reid, straight to the baseline! An immersive delight.”—Emma Straub
“The author of Daisy Jones and the Six and, most recently, Malibu Rising, brings back Carrie Soto—a character you might recall from Malibu—for an epic adventure about a female athlete perhaps past her prime, brought back to the tennis court for one last grand slam.”—Elle
“Taylor Jenkins Reid's latest is set in the world of the tennis elite, following a ruthless former champion who—after losing her record to a rising star—decides to come out of retirement at 37 in order to reclaim her title. It's seriously inspiring, and it's best enjoyed on the beach while doing no physical activity whatsoever.”—Cosmopolitan
“An epic story about bravery, endurance, but also the power of vulnerability.”—BuzzFeed
“Told with Reid’s ability to craft dynamic, exciting characters (and taking place in the same universe as at least one of her novels), [Carrie Soto Is Backis] a very much-anticipated addition to her menagerie of page-turners.”—Fodor’s Travel
“In her latest must-read novel, Reid artfully weaves narratives of self-doubt, parental expectations, smoldering romance, and the heavy price of sacrificing it all for athletic greatness. . . . This should make your list of the most-anticipated books of 2022.”—Reader’s Digest (Editor’s Pick)
“Reid writes about the game with suspense, transforming a tennis match into a page-turner even for readers who don’t care about sports. . . . Reid has scored another victory and created another memorable heroine with Carrie Soto, a brash, often unlikable character whose complexity makes her leap off the page. . . . Readers will root for her both on and off the court. A compulsively readable look at female ambition.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Reid has written another knockout of a book.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“Reid captures the excitement of elite sports in her descriptions of Carrie’s games, as well as the struggle that women athletes face when their ambition and confidence is “too much.” But the most affecting moments are when Carrie lets her guard down and shows the woman behind the myth . . . It’s another triumph for bestselling author Reid, and her growing number of fans will be thrilled to see cameo appearances from characters from her earlier books. . . . Reid's previous works have been phenomenal hits, so expect no less from her latest.”—Booklist (starred review)
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“Gorgeous. The kind of sharp, smart, potent book you have to set aside every few pages just to catch your breath. I'll take a piece of Carrie Soto forward with me in life and be a little better for it.”-Emily Henry, author of Book Lovers and Beach Read
Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular. But by the time she retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed twenty Grand Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father, Javier, as her coach. A former champion himself, Javier has trained her since the age of two.
But six years after her retirement, Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open, watching her record be taken from her by a brutal, stunning player named Nicki Chan.
At thirty-seven years old, Carrie makes the monumental decision to come out of retirement and be coached by her father for one last year in an attempt to reclaim her record. Even if the sports media says that they never liked “the Battle-Axe” anyway. Even if her body doesn't move as fast as it did. And even if it means swallowing her pride to train with a man she once almost opened her heart to: Bowe Huntley. Like her, he has something to prove before he gives up the game forever.
In spite of it all, Carrie Soto is back, for one epic final season. In this riveting and unforgettable novel, Taylor Jenkins Reid tells her most vulnerable, emotional story yet.
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Don’t worry if you’re not big on sports stories; this is, ultimately, a heart-filled novel about an iconic and persevering father and daughter.”—TIME
At the 1994 U.S. Open, retired tennis champion Carrie Soto sits in the stands watching Nicki Chan tie Soto's own record of 20 Grand Slam wins. Chan's victory lights the fire in Carrie's belly again; she begins to train with her father, Javier. Her father had been her first and best trainer, drilling with her repeatedly when Soto was a young athlete and ingraining the fundamentals of tennis in her. Yet during Carrie's pro career, she had gone to another coach after a fight with her father. Now, at the age of 37, long after most tennis players have retired into a coaching career, Javier and Carrie make another run at the Grand Slams. Carrie is a driven athlete with little to no life outside of tennis. Even non-tennis-playing readers will root hard for her to win, then cheer even harder for her to discover who she is without the sport. VERDICT Reid (Daisy Jones & the Six) has written another knockout of a book. Public libraries will need multiple copies.—Jennie Mills
A retired tennis player returns to the game to defend her Grand Slam record.
Carrie Soto is the best tennis player in the world, and she knows it. Her father, Javier, is a former tennis champion himself, and he's dedicated his life to coaching her. By the time she retires in 1989, she holds the record for winning 20 Grand Slam singles titles. But then, in 1994, Nicki Chan comes along. Nicki is on the verge of breaking Carrie’s record, and Carrie decides she can’t let that happen: She’s coming out of retirement, with her father coaching her, to defend her record…and her reputation. Carrie was never a friendly player, preferring to focus on both a brutal game and brutal honesty, and now the media has a field day with her return to the sport as a 37-year-old. At times, it seems like everyone is waiting for her to fail, but when Carrie wants something, she doesn’t give up easily. Along the way, she reconnects with Bowe Huntley, a 39-year-old tennis player she once had a fling with. Now they need to help each other train, but Carrie quickly realizes she might need him for more than just tennis—if she can let herself be vulnerable for the first time in her life. Reid writes about the game with suspense, transforming a tennis match into a page-turner even for readers who don’t care about sports. Will Carrie win? And, more importantly, will she finally make time for a life outside of winning? Reid has scored another victory and created another memorable heroine with Carrie Soto, a brash, often unlikable character whose complexity makes her leap off the page. Sports commentators may call her “The Battle Axe” or worse, but readers will root for her both on and off the court.
A compulsively readable look at female ambition.
|Publisher:||Penguin Random House|
Read an Excerpt
My entire life’s work rests on the outcome of this match.
My father, Javier, and I sit front row center at Flushing Meadows, the sidelines just out of reach. The linesmen stand with their arms behind their backs on either side of the court. Straight in front of us, the umpire presides over the crowd high in his chair. The ball girls crouch low, ready to sprint at a moment’s notice.
This is the third set. Nicki Chan took the first, and Ingrid Cortez squeaked out the second. This last one will determine the winner.
My father and I watch—along with the twenty thousand others in the stadium—as Nicki Chan approaches the baseline. She bends her knees and steadies herself. Then she rises onto her toes, tosses the ball in the air, and with a snap of her wrist sends a blistering serve at 126 miles per hour toward Ingrid Cortez’s backhand.
Cortez returns it with startling power. It falls just inside the line. Nicki isn’t able to get to it. Point Cortez.
I let my eyes close and exhale.
“Cuidado. The cameras are watching our reactions,” my father says through gritted teeth. He’s wearing one of his many panama hats, his curly silver hair creeping out the back.
“Dad, everyone’s watching our reactions.”
Nicki Chan has won two Slam titles this year already—the Australian Open and the French Open. If she wins this match, she’ll tie my lifetime record of twenty Grand Slam singles titles. I set that record back in 1987, when I won Wimbledon for the ninth time and established myself as the greatest tennis player of all time.
Nicki’s particular style of play—brash and loud, played almost exclusively from the baseline, with incredible violence to her serves and groundstrokes—has enabled her to dominate women’s tennis over the past five years. But when she was starting out on the WTA tour back in the late eighties, I found her to be an unremarkable opponent. Good on a clay court, perhaps, but I could beat her handily on her home turf of London.
Things changed after I retired in 1989. Nicki began racking up Slams at an alarming rate. Now she’s at my heels.
My jaw tenses as I watch her.
My father looks at me, his face placid. “I’m saying that the photographers are trying to get a shot of you looking angry, or rooting against her.”
I am wearing a black sleeveless shirt and jeans. A pair of tortoiseshell Oliver Peoples sunglasses. My hair is down. At almost thirty-seven, I look as good as I’ve ever looked, in my opinion. So let them take as many pictures as they want.
“What did I always tell you in junior championships?”
“Don’t let it show on your face.”
Ingrid Cortez is a seventeen-year-old Spanish player who has surprised almost everyone with her quick ascent up the rankings. Her style is a bit like Nicki’s—powerful, loud—but she plays her angles more. She’s surprisingly emotional on the court. She hits a scorcher of an ace past Nicki and hollers with glee.
“You know, maybe it’s Cortez who’s going to stop her,” I say.
My father shakes his head. “Lo dudo.” He barely moves his lips when he talks, his eye consciously avoiding the camera. I have no doubt that tomorrow morning, my father will open the paper and scan the sports pages looking for his photo. He will smile to himself when he sees that he looks nothing short of handsome. Although he lost weight earlier this year from the rounds of chemo he endured, he is cancer-free now. His body has bounced back. His color looks good.
As the sun beats down on his face, I hand him a tube of sunscreen. He squints and shakes his head, as if it is an insult to us both.
“Cortez got one good one in,” my father says. “But Nicki saves her power for the third set.”
My pulse quickens. Nicki hits three winners in a row, takes the game. It’s now 3–3 in the third set.
My father looks at me, lowering his glasses so I can see his eyes. “Entonces, what are you going to do?” he asks.
I look away. “I don’t know.”
He puts his glasses back on and looks at the court, giving me a small nod. “Well, if you do nothing, that is what you are doing. Nothing.”
“Sí, papá, I got it.”
Nicki serves wide. Cortez runs and scrambles to catch it on the rise, but it flies into the net.
I look at my father. He wears a slight frown.
In the players’ box, Cortez’s coach is hunched over in his seat, his hands cupping his face.
Nicki doesn’t have a coach. She left her last one almost three years ago and has taken six Slams since then without anyone’s guidance.
My dad makes a lot of cracks about players who don’t have coaches. But with Nicki, he seems to withhold judgment.
Cortez is bent over, holding her hand down on her hips and trying to catch her breath. Nicki doesn’t let up. She fires off another serve across the court. Cortez takes off running but misses it.
I know that smile. I’ve been here before.
On the next point, Nicki takes the game.
“Dammit,” I say at the changeover.
My father raises his eyebrows. “Cortez crumbles as soon as she doesn’t control the court. And Nicki knows it.”
“Nicki’s powerful,” I say. “But she’s also hugely adaptable. When you play her, you’re playing somebody who is adjusting on the fly, tailoring their game to your specific weakness.”
My father nods.
“Every player has a weak spot,” I say. “And Nicki is great at finding it.”
“So what’s hers?”
My father is now holding back a smile. He lifts his drink and takes a sip.
“What?” I ask.
“Nothing,” my father says.
“I haven’t made a decision.”
Both players head back out onto the court.
“Nicki is just a tiny bit slow,” I say, watching her walk to the baseline. “She has a lot of power, but she’s not fast—not in her footwork or her shot selection. She’s not quite as quick as Cortez, even today. But especially not as quick as Moretti, Antonovich, even Perez.”
“Or you,” my father says. “There’s nobody on the tour right now who is as fast as you were. Not just with your feet, but with your head, también.”
He continues. “I’m talking about getting into position, taking the ball out of the air early, taking the pace off so Nicki can’t hit it back with that power. Nobody on the tour is doing that. Not like you did.”
“I’d have to meet her power, though,” I tell him. “And somehow still maintain speed.”
“Which will not be easy.”
“Not at my age and not with my knee,” I say. “I don’t have the jumps I used to have.”
“Es verdad,” my father says. “It will take everything you have to give.”
“If I did it,” I say.
My father rolls his eyes but then swiftly paints another false smile on his face.
I laugh. “Honestly, who cares if they get a picture of you frowning?”
“I’m staying off your back,” my father says. “You stay off mine. ¿Lo entendés, hija?”
I laugh again. “Sí, lo entiendo, papá.”
Nicki takes the next game too. One more and it’s over. She’ll tie my record.
My temples begin to pound as I envision it all unfolding. Cortez is not going to stave off Nicki Chan, not today. And I’m stuck up here in the seats. I have to sit here and watch Nicki take away everything I’ve worked for.
“Who’s going to coach me?” I say. “You?”
My father does not look at me, but I can see his shoulders stiffen. He takes a breath, chooses his words.
“That’s for you to answer,” he finally says. “It’s not my choice to make.”
“So, what? I’m gonna call up Lars?”
“You are going to do whatever you want to do, pichona,” my father says. “That is how adulthood works.”
He is going to make me beg. And I deserve it.
Cortez is busting her ass to make the shots. But she’s tired. You can see it in the way her legs shake when she’s standing still. She nets a return. It’s now 30–love.
I look around at the crowd. People are leaning forward; some are tapping their fingers. Every one of them seems to be breathing a little faster. I can only imagine what the sportscasters are saying.
The spectators sitting around us are looking at my father and me out of the corner of their eyes, watching my reaction. I’m starting to feel caged.
“If I do it . . .” I say softly. “I want you to coach me. That’s what I’m saying, Dad.”