Bartoli was born in Le Puy-en-Velay, Haute-Loire, France. She is of Corsican, Catalan and metropolitan French descent. She started playing tennis at the age of six. Bartoli trained in a small facility as a youngster where there was not much room behind the baseline. Her father, Walter, gave up his career as a doctor to become her full time coach when Bartoli won the 2001 Junior US Open title, defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova 4–6, 6–3, 6–4.