Christina McHale was born in Teaneck, New Jersey. She is the daughter of John and Margarita McHale. Her father John is an Irish American, while her mother Margarita was born in Cuba. Her family lived in Hong Kong from the time she was three until she was eight, and she speaks a degree of Mandarin Chinese, along with fluent Spanish. In 2000, the McHale family moved back to the United States and bought a home in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. In June 2006, she graduated from Upper School of the Englewood Cliffs Public Schools as the eighth-grade valedictorian.
At the age of 15, she left home to train at the USTA Training Center headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida. She was homeschooled through Kaplan Online High School since age 15. Her sister Lauren played collegiate tennis at UNC-Chapel Hill and is married to ATP tour player Ryan Harrison.
McHale began professional training at the USTA Training Center in Carson, California.
McHale was granted a wildcard into the main draw of the 2009 Australian Open, where she lost a three-set match in the first round to Jessica Moore. She also joined the US Fed Cup team and competed against France. She received a wildcard into the main draw of the 2009 US Open, where she won her first career Grand Slam match by defeating Polona Hercog in straight sets. However, she lost to Maria Sharapova in the second round.
In Boca Raton, Florida, McHale beat Asia Muhammad in qualifying. Soon afterwards, she earned a qualifying victory over Beatrice Capra for the 2010 French Open. She lost in the first round to Varvara Lepchenko.
At the 2010 Western & Southern Financial Group Masters and Women's Open, McHale defeated Nadia Petrova in the first round and Ayumi Morita in the second. She then lost in the third round to the eventual winner and former world no. 1 Kim Clijsters.
In June, she gained her first ITF singles title, winning a $50,000 event in Italy.
At the 2011 Wimbledon Championships, McHale won her second Grand Slam match by defeating 28th seed Ekaterina Makarova in three sets. She lost in the second round to Tamira Paszek of Austria. In the second round of the Western & Southern Open, McHale beat then-world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets.
In the first round of the US Open, she earned a three-set victory over Aleksandra Wozniak. She went on to beat eighth seed Marion Bartoli in straight sets. McHale exited after a third-round loss to 25th seeded Maria Kirilenko.
McHale kicked off her season at the 2012 ASB Classic in Auckland. She won her 1st round match over Alexandra Dulgheru 6-2, 6-3. McHale lost in the 2nd round to 3rd seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 6-1. Ranked 42 at the 2012 Australian Open, she upset 24th seed Lucie Šafářová in the 1st round 6-2, 6-4. She won her 2nd round match over Marina Erakovic 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-3. McHale lost her 3rd round match to 13th seed Jelena Janković 6-2, 6-0.
In February, McHale played in the Fed Cup tie against Belarus. She won both of her matches over Anastasiya Yakimova and Darya Kustova. In the end, The USA crushed Belarus 5-0. At the 2012 Open GDF Suez, McHale defeated Lucky Loser and compatriot Varvara Lepchenko in the 1st round 6-4, 7-5. In the 2nd round, she lost to Yanina Wickmayer 6-2, 7-5. Playing in Qatar at the 2012 Qatar Total Open, McHale reached the quarterfinals beating Chanelle Scheepers, 12th seed Peng Shuai, and Shahar Pe'er. She was defeated in the quarterfinals by 4th seed Agnieszka Radwańska 6-1, 6-1. Seeded 32 at the 2012 BNP Paribas Open, McHale got a bye to the 2nd round. She defeated Elena Vesnina in the 2nd round 6-3, 7-5. In the 3rd round, she stunned 3rd seed Petra Kvitová 2-6, 6-2, 6-3. McHale's run came to an end when she lost a tough 3 set match to 18th seed Angelique Kerber 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(4). McHale wrapped up March by playing at the 2012 Sony Ericsson Open. She beat Galina Voskoboeva in the 1st round 6-3, 6-4. She then was defeated in the 2nd round by 29th seed Petra Cetkovská 0-6, 7-5, 6-1.
McHale started the clay court season in Charleston at the 2012 Family Circle Cup. Seeded 11, she lost in the 1st round to Aleksandra Wozniak 7-5, 5-7, 6-4. She was then selected for the 2012 Fed Cup World Group Tie in Kharkiv, Ukraine. McHale won both of her rubbers over Lesia Tsurenko and Elina Svitolina. At the end of the Fed Cup Tie, the USA crushed Ukraine 5-0. In the 2012 French Open, McHale defeated Kiki Bertens and fellow American Lauren Davis in the first two rounds before falling to defending champion Li Na in the 3rd round.
McHale advanced to the third round for the fourth consecutive grand slam event in the 2012 Wimbledon Championships. She advanced over Johanna Konta and Mathilde Johansson but was defeated by 8th seeded Angelique Kerber in the third round.
McHale then participated at the Olympic tennis tournament in London where she was defeated in the first round by Ana Ivanovic. In New York at the 2012 US Open, McHale was defeated in the first round by Kiki Bertens. McHale then competed in the China Open in Beijing, but she was defeated in the first round by Ana Ivanovic once again.
McHale started her 2013 season at the 2013 ASB Classic. Seeded 7, she lost in the opening round to Pauline Parmentier 6-4, 6-1. At the 2013 Apia International Sydney, she was defeated in the 1st round by 4th seed Li Na 7-6(2), 7-5. McHale's slump continued into the 2013 Australian Open. Ranked 35, McHale fell in the 1st round to Yulia Putintseva 6-1, 6-7(0), 6-2.
McHale then recorded her first win of the year (and first since August 2012) in Paris at the 2013 Open GDF Suez, defeating Pauline Parmentier in the first round. She subsequently lost to Marion Bartoli in the second round.
McHale's next tournament was the 2013 Qatar Total Open in Doha, Qatar, where she defeated Vera Dushevina in the opening round. Following that, she went on to defeat Lucie Šafárová in the second round (marking her first back-to-back victory in 2013) before falling to Victoria Azarenka in the third round.
The following week, McHale continued in the middle east swing by partaking in the qualifying event for the 2013 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, in which she defeated Kai-Chen Chang before falling to Kurumi Nara. She continued her 2013 campaign at the WTA Premier Mandatory 2013 BNP Parbias Open in Indian Wells, California, opening with a victory against Tsvetana Pironkova. She subsequently lost to Maria Kirilenko in the next round.
McHale started her European clay swing at the 2013 Mutua Madrid Open in Madrid Spain. She was the second seed in the qualifying event in which she advanced through to the main draw with victories over Andrea Hlavácková and Mathilde Johansson. In the main draw, McHale opened with a win against Peng Shuai, before falling to Maria Sharapova in the second round. In Rome, McHale defeated Karin Knapp in the first round, before losing to seventh seed Sara Errani in the second. The match against Errani was the third time in as many meetings in which the match was decided in the third set.
Her French Open campaign ended in a first round defeat, whilst Wimbledon saw an improvement, where she reached the second round and was defeated by the 15th seed and eventual champion, Marion Bartoli of France.
At the US Open, McHale reached the third round, where she faced Serbian nemesis Ana Ivanovic. After winning the first set, she served for the match at 5–4 up in the second set, but was broken, and ultimately lost the match in three sets. Despite the loss, she earned praise for her fighting performance against the former world number one.
McHale reached her first WTA final in Acapulco in 2014, where she was runner-up to Dominika Cibulkova. By 2016, she had also achieved the feat of reaching the third round in every Grand Slam tournament. At the 2016 Wimbledon Championships, she pushed eventual champion Serena Williams to three sets, winning the first and briefly holding the lead in the third. In September 2016, she won her first WTA title at the Japan Women's Open, defeating Kateřina Siniaková in three sets. "I don't even want to put my trophy down—I just want to hold it all the time," McHale stated after the match.
An aggressive baseliner, McHale is noted for her powerful forehand groundstrokes, as well as for her speed around the court. During her second-round match at Wimbledon in 2016, Eurosport commended McHale for displaying "superb court coverage". The New York Times has noted McHale's "booming" groundstrokes as one of her primary strengths.
Only Main Draw results in WTA Tour are considered. This table is current through the 2017 Australian Open.
Only Main Draw results in WTA Tour are considered. This table is current through the US Open.