Jennifer Capriati

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Jennifer Capriati
Jennifer Capriati Wimbledon 2004.jpg
Capriati at the 2004 Wimbledon Championships
Country (sports)  United States
Residence Wesley Chapel, Florida, U.S.
Born (1976-03-29) March 29, 1976 (age 39)
New York City, New York
Height 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)[1]
Turned pro March 5, 1990
Retired 2004
Plays Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Prize money US$ 10,206,639
Int. Tennis HoF 2012 (member page)
Career record 430–176 (70.96%)
Career titles 14
Highest ranking No. 1 (October 15, 2001)
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian Open W (2001, 2002)
French Open W (2001)
Wimbledon SF (1991, 2001)
US Open SF (1991, 2001, 2003, 2004)
Other tournaments
Tour Finals SF (2002, 2003)
Olympic Games Gold medal.svg Gold medal (1992)
Career record 66–50
Career titles 1
Highest ranking No. 28 (March 2, 1992)
Olympic medal record
Women's tennis
Competitor for the  United States
Gold medal – first place 1992 Barcelona Singles

Jennifer Maria Capriati[2] (born March 29, 1976) is an American former professional tennis player. A member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, she won three singles championships in Grand Slam tournaments, a gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics, reached the World No. 1 ranking, and is considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time.[3][4]

Capriati set a number of youngest-ever records at the start of her career. She made her professional debut in 1990 at the age of 13 years 11 months, reaching the final of the hard-court tournament in Boca Raton, Florida. Capriati reached the semifinals of the French Open in her debut and later became the youngest ever player to reach the top 10 at age 14 years, 235 days in October of that year. Following a first-round loss at the 1993 US Open, Capriati took a 14-month break from competitive pro tennis. Her personal struggles during this time (including arrests for shoplifting and possession of marijuana) were well-documented by the press.

In 1998, Capriati won her first Grand Slam singles match in five years at Wimbledon. During the next two years, Capriati slowly returned to championship form, winning her first title in six years in Strasbourg in 1999 and regaining a top-20 ranking. At the 2001 Australian Open, the reinvigorated Capriati became the lowest seed to ever win the championship when she defeated Martina Hingis in straight sets for her first Grand Slam championship. She also won the French Open that year, claiming the Women's Tennis Association No. 1 ranking in October. After successfully defending her Australian Open title in 2002, Capriati became a top-ten mainstay until injuries derailed her career in 2004. She won 14 professional singles tournaments during her career, along with one women's doubles championship.


1990–1991: The records[edit]

Capriati made her professional debut as a 13-year-old, reaching the finals of two of her first three pro events, losing to Gabriela Sabatini and Martina Navratilova in the Boca Raton and Hilton Head tournaments respectively, earning her first two wins over top-10 players (No. 10 Helena Suková and No. 5. Arantxa Sánchez Vicario). She entered the rankings in April, at No. 23. Capriati made her Grand Slam debut at the French Open. She went all the way to the semifinals, losing to eventual champion Monica Seles. She then reached the fourth round at Wimbledon, losing to Steffi Graf. Later in the year Capriati won her first career title in Puerto Rico, defeating Zina Garrison. After this victory Capriati entered the world's top 10. She qualified for the WTA Championships, narrowly losing to Graf in the first round in three sets. She finished her first season as a professional at World No 8.

Throughout the season Capriati set multiple "youngest-ever" records. She was the youngest player to reach a tour final, the youngest player to reach the semifinals at the French Open, the youngest seed ever at Wimbledon, and the youngest player to qualify for the season-ending championships. She was also the fourth-youngest player to win a WTA title.

In her second season as a touring pro, Capriati established herself as a consistent top-10 player. She won two singles titles during the summer hard court circuit, defeating World No. 1 Monica Seles in a third set tie-breaker in finals of San Diego, and Katerina Maleeva in straight sets in the final of Toronto. She also reached two Grand Slam semifinals, at Wimbledon and the US Open. At Wimbledon, the 15-year-old Capriati stunned nine-time champion Martina Navratilova, defeating her in the quarterfinals in straight sets.[5] Capriati became the youngest person to ever reach the semifinal round of the tournament, losing to Sabatini. At the US Open, Capriati defeated Sabatini in the quarters but lost in the semis to eventual champion Seles after serving for the match twice. Capriati qualified for the year-end championships for the second time, reaching the quarterfinals. She ended the year at No. 6, which would be a career high until 2001.

Capriati also won the only doubles title of her career at the Italian Open, partnering with Seles.[1]

1992–1993: Continued success, Olympic gold medal[edit]

Capriati's 1992 season was highlighted by her victory at the Summer Olympics. She defeated second-seeded Arantxa Sánchez Vicario in the semifinals and came from a set down to defeat top-seeded Steffi Graf in the gold-medal match. Capriati next defended her title in San Diego, defeating Conchita Martínez in the final, the only time that Capriati won back-to-back singles titles during her career. She reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open (in her debut), at the French Open, and at Wimbledon, and then she lost in the third round at the US Open. In Miami, Capriati ended Monica Seles's streak of 21 consecutive finals by defeating her in the quarterfinals. Capriati finished the year ranked in the top 10 for the third straight year, at No. 7. She also became the youngest player to surpass $1 million in prize money (Martina Hingis would later break this record).[1] Also in 1992, a Sega Genesis video game titled Jennifer Capriati Tennis was released by Renovation Products.[6]

At her first tournament of 1993, in Sydney, Capriati defeated third-ranked Sabatini in the semifinals before defeating Anke Huber in the final. For the second straight year she reached the quarterfinals at the first three majors of the year. She reached the final of the Rogers Cup in Montreal, losing to Steffi Graf. At the US Open, the seventh-seeded Capriati lost her opening match to former top 15-player Leila Meskhi, her first loss in the first round of any pro tournament. Following this loss, Capriati decided to take a break from tennis. She finished the year ranked ninth.[1]

1994–95: Break from tour[edit]

Capriati only played one match in 1994, losing in the first round of Philadelphia to Anke Huber. She fell off the rankings in June. She did not play at all in 1995.[1]

1996: Return[edit]

Capriati, unranked, played her first match in 15 months in Essen, where she reached the quarterfinals, losing to Jana Novotná in three sets. She reached her first final in more than three years at Chicago, defeating Monica Seles en route, before losing again to Novotná in three sets. Capriati also reached the quarters in the fall at the Zurich Open, defeating Sabatini in the opening round in what would be the last singles match of Sabatini's career. Capriati competed in her first Grand Slam tournaments since 1993 at the French Open and the U.S. Open, losing in the first round of both. Capriati re-appeared on the rankings in April at No. 103, and finished the year inside the top 25, at No. 24.[1]

1997–98: Descent in the rankings[edit]

In January 1997, Capriati reached the final in Sydney for the second time in her career, defeating World No. 9 Lindsay Davenport en route for her only top 10 win of the year, losing to Martina Hingis in the final. She only reached the quarterfinals at one other tournament, Oklahoma City, where she lost to Davenport. Capriati finished the year at No. 66, having played in just three tournaments.

Capriati did not play the first half of 1998. By the spring, she was ranked below the top 200. She accepted a wildcard entry into the clay-court tournament in Hamburg, Germany, where she reached the quarterfinals, but then lost to Martina Hingis. Capriati was also a quarterfinalist in Palermo, Italy. In the first round at Wimbledon, Capriati won her first Grand Slam singles match in five years, before losing to Lori McNeil in the second round. Capriati finished 1998 ranked 101.[1]

1999–2000: Ascent[edit]

1999 was Capriati's best season in several years. She won her first title in six years at Strasbourg, defeating ninth ranked Nathalie Tauziat in a quarterfinal for her first win over a top 10 player in two years. She defeated Russian Elena Likhovtseva in the final. She won her second title of the year at Quebec City, defeating American Chanda Rubin in the final. She also reached the round of 16 at both Roland Garros and US Open. She finished the year at No. 23.

At the 2000 Australian Open, Capriati reached her first Grand Slam semifinal in nine years before losing to eventual champion Lindsay Davenport in straight sets.

At the Miami Masters, Capriati defeated World No. 6 Serena Williams for her first win over a player ranked in the top 6 in four years en route to a quarterfinal finish. Shortly after, Capriati was sidelined with right Achilles tendonitis in April and an elbow injury in June.

Capriati had a strong fall season, winning her ninth career title at Luxembourg, defeating Magdalena Maleeva. She also finished runner up in Quebec City to Chanda Rubin and was a semifinalist in Zürich. These results propelled Capriati back into the top 20 for the first time since April 1994. She qualified for the season-ending championships for the first time in seven years. Her year-end ranking was 14, her highest in seven years. Capriati was also a member of the US Fed Cup Team, winning a singles and doubles rubber in the US's victory over Spain in the final.[1]

2001: Grand Slam champion and World No. 1[edit]

Capriati was seeded 12th at the 2001 Australian Open. She rallied from a set and a break down to defeat Monica Seles to reach the semis for the second consecutive year, beating World No. 2 Davenport. In her first Grand Slam final, she defeated top seed and World No. 1 Martina Hingis in straight sets to win her first Grand Slam singles title. She was the lowest seed to ever win the title, and also the first player since Tracy Austin in 1979 to defeat the top two ranked players in straight sets at a major. As a result of this triumph, Capriati re-entered the top 10 in the rankings at No. 7, the longest absence (nearly eight years) from the top 10 in WTA history.

Capriati then reached the finals of the Cellular Cup in Oklahoma City, losing in the final to Seles. After electing not to participate at the 2001 Indian Wells Masters, Capriati reached the final in Miami, losing to Venus Williams after having failed to convert on eight championship points.

Capriati then embarked on a remarkably successful clay court campaign. She won her second title of the year at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina, defeating Hingis in three sets in the final. She then lost in the final of Berlin to Amélie Mauresmo, also in three sets. Seeded fourth at the 2001 French Open, Capriati defeated top seed Hingis in the semis and the 12th seeded Kim Clijsters in the final to win her second consecutive Grand Slam title. Her 1–6, 6–4, 12–10 win over Clijsters had the longest-ever third set in a women's final in the French Open. Capriati was two points away from being defeated four times. She was only the fifth woman in history to win the Australian Open and the French Open consecutively.

At Wimbledon, Capriati rallied from 7–6, 5–3, 30–0 down in the quarters to defeat Serena Williams. Capriati's 19-match Grand Slam win streak ended in the semis at the hands of eighth seeded Justine Henin. Capriati rebounded at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Ontario, making it to the final before losing to Serena Williams after saving match point in the second set. Capriati then lost in the semifinals of the US Open to Venus Williams. Despite the loss, Capriati accumulated the best Grand Slam record of 2001, and she was the only player to reach at least the semifinals of all four of the Grand Slam tournaments.

Despite playing very little in the fall, Capriati became ranked world No. 1 on October 15. She lost her opening match at the WTA Tour Championships to Maleeva. Capriati would have finished the year ranked No. 1 had she reached the semifinals. Instead, she finished No. 2, behind Lindsay Davenport, with a 56–14 record.[1]

2002: Third Grand Slam title[edit]

As a result of Lindsay Davenport's withdrawal from the Australian Open due to an injury, Capriati was the top seed. She defeated the sixth-seeded Amélie Mauresmo and the fourth-seeded Kim Clijsters en route to her second consecutive final there, where she once again faced Martina Hingis. The match was played in very hot conditions, with the temperature exceeding 35 degrees Celsius. Capriati fought back from 6–4, 4–0 down and four championship points to eventually prevail 4–6, 7–6(7), 6–2. This was Capriati's third and final Grand Slam title.

In the spring, Capriati reached finals in Scottsdale and Miami losing to Serena Williams on both occasions. Capriati prepared for her French Open title defense by participating in events in Charleston, Berlin, and Rome, losing in the semifinals of all three. As the top seed at the French Open, Capriati reached the semifinals—before losing to the eventual champion Serena Williams in three sets. Capriati surrendered her No. 1 ranking to Venus Williams as a result of this loss. Capriati's streak of six consecutive Grand Slam semifinals was broken at Wimbledon, where she lost to Amélie Mauresmo in three sets in the quarterfinals. She also lost to Mauresmo in the finals of the Canadian Open, and in the quarterfinals of the US Open after having served for the match.

Capriati won only one match in the three European indoor events she played. She rebounded at the year-ending championships, reaching the semifinals for the first time, losing to Serena Williams. Capriati finished the year ranked third.[1]

2003: New Haven champion[edit]

A week after the 2002 WTA Championships, Capriati had eye surgery in order to remove pterygiums (sun spots) from both eyes. Recovery from the surgery hampered Capriati's off-season preparation.

In the opening round of the 2003 Australian Open Capriati lost to unseeded and unheralded Marlene Weingärtner. Capriati was the first Australian Open title-holder to lose in the first round. She withdrew from the Pan Pacific Open to further recover from her surgery.

Capriati rebounded by reaching at least semifinals of the next five tournaments she played. She lost to Lindsay Davenport in the semifinals of the Indian Wells tournament. She then reached the final of the Sony Ericsson Open for the third consecutive year before losing to World No. 1 Serena Williams. Capriati lost in the round of 16 of the French Open to unseeded Nadia Petrova. She reached the quarters of Wimbledon for the sixth time, losing to Serena Williams in three sets, her eighth consecutive loss to her compatriot.

Capriati then reached her second final of 2003 in Stanford, losing to Kim Clijsters in three sets. A pectoral strain forced Capriati to retire from her opening match in San Diego and pull out of Montreal. Capriati won her first title of 2003 in New Haven after Davenport retired in the final while trailing. This ended a 28-tournament title drought for Capriati, and was her first tour victory since she won the 2002 Australian Open. Seeded 6th at the US Open, Capriati reached the semifinal, where she faced second-seeded Justine Henin. Capriati served for the match twice and was two points away from victory eleven times, but Henin prevailed in a three-hour marathon.

Capriati did not play again until the WTA Tour Championships when she lost in the semifinal to World No. 1 Justine Henin.[1]

2004: Final full season[edit]

Injuries plagued Capriati's 2004 season. A back injury suffered during the 2003 WTA Tour Championships forced Capriati to withdraw from the 2004 Australian Open and the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. Capriati advanced beyond the quarterfinals just once in her first four events of the year in Doha, losing to Anastasia Myskina in the semifinals. Her back continued to be an issue, forcing her out of Indian Wells and Miami. Her ranking dropped to No. 10 as a result of her injuries.

Capriati produced her best results of the year during the European clay-court season. She reached the semis of Berlin, defeating world No. 5 Myskina in the quarters for her first top 5 win of the season, before losing to Mauresmo in the semifinals. At the Italian Open, Capriati defeated top seed Serena Williams in the quarterfinals, her first win over the American since Wimbledon 2001. Capriati moved on to the final, where she lost to Mauresmo in a 3 hour struggle. Seeded 7th at the French Open, Capriati went on to the semifinals, before losing to sixth seeded and eventual champion Myskina in straight sets.

At Wimbledon, Capriati reached the quarters for the fourth straight year, where she lost to Serena Williams in 45 minutes, the most lopsided result of their 17-match rivalry. A hamstring injury forced her to withdraw from Los Angeles and San Diego, but she reached the quarterfinals of both Montreal and New Haven. Seeded 8th at the US Open, Capriati defeated Williams in a controversial quarterfinal match to reach her fourth US Open semifinal. Capriati then lost to fifth seed Elena Dementieva in the semifinals.

Following the US Open, Capriati lost in the quarterfinals of Philadelphia to No. 11 Vera Zvonareva, her worst loss since 1999 (where she won only one game against Graf in Miami). Capriati failed to qualify for the season-ending championships for the first time since 1999. She finished the year World No. 10.[1]

Playing style[edit]

Capriati was one of the first power players to emerge on the women's circuit in the early-to-mid-1990s, along with Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport, and Mary Pierce. Her style of play is characterized by taking the ball early and on the rise, powerful ground-strokes, and an aggressive mindset on the return of service.

Capriati's game was built around her groundstrokes and movement. Her flat forehand, devastating when hit hard, was considered her biggest weapon, especially when she was stretched out wide. She also possessed a solid backhand. She was quick around the court, able to play defense as well as offense. Her biggest weakness was considered to be her serve. Her first serve was powerful, but offset by a wandering ball-toss, and her second serve was considered to be the most vulnerable part of her game. However, Capriati was known to counter her inconsistent serve with her exceptional return of serve.

Equipment and endorsements[edit]

In the 1990s, she signed a reported $3-million contract with Diadora, and a $1-million contract with Prince tennis rackets.[7]

In the early 2000s, Capriati's apparel on court was manufactured by Fila.[8] She used a Prince Precision Retro 27 Midplus racket.[9]

Legacy and accolades[edit]

Capriati was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012 and is generally considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time.[3][4] A video game titled Jennifer Capriati Tennis was released for the Sega Genesis in 1992.[6] In 2001, ESPN named Capriati one of the world's sexiest athletes.[10]

Post-tennis endeavors[edit]

In April 2009, it was announced that Capriati would appear on the ABC television reality series The Superstars. The show, described as a revival of the 1970s series of the same name, premiered on June 23, 2009, in a co-ed format, with Capriati paired with singer and actor David Charvet, best known for his role as a lifeguard on the television show Baywatch. In the first episode of the show, they were one of the lower-performing teams and were sent into a run-off in an obstacle course race against basketball player Lisa Leslie and actor Dan Cortese. Capriati/Charvet won their race and avoided elimination.[11] At the start of the next episode, however, which aired on June 30, 2009, it was suddenly announced that Capriati had re-aggravated a previous injury during the first episode's events, and that as a result she and her partner were eliminated from the competition.

Capriati appeared in an Oil of Olay commercial in the early 1990s. She also appeared in an American Express commercial during the US Open.

Personal life[edit]

Capriati was born in New York City, New York, the daughter of Denise and Stefano Capriati.[12] She is of Italian descent.

In 1993, Capriati was charged with shoplifting a ring, which she has described as accidental.[13] She was arrested on May 16, 1994 and charged with misdemeanour marijuana possession. She agreed to enter a drug counselling program.[14]

In 1994, Capriati admitted that she had contemplated suicide due to tennis burnout and issues over her appearance and relationships.[15] In 2010, she required treatment for a drug overdose.[16]

Capriati was in a relationship with Belgian tennis player Xavier Malisse.[17]

In 2013, Capriati was charged with battery and stalking after reportedly following and striking former boyfriend, Ivan Brennan, on Valentine's Day.[18] Stalking and battery charges against Capriati were later dropped.[19] In 2014, the state attorney's office in Palm Beach County, Florida announced that Capriati had completed 30 hours of community service and four hours of anger management counseling in connection with the incident.[19]

Significant finals[edit]

Grand Slam singles finals (3 titles)[edit]

Outcome Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Winner 2001 Australian Open Hard Switzerland Martina Hingis 6–4, 6–3
Winner 2001 French Open Clay Belgium Kim Clijsters 1–6, 6–4, 12–10
Winner 2002 Australian Open (2) Hard Switzerland Martina Hingis 4–6, 7–6(9–7), 6–2

Summer Olympics singles finals (1 Gold Medal)[edit]

Outcome Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Gold 1992 Barcelona Olympics Clay Germany Steffi Graf 3–6, 6–3, 6–4


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Jennifer Capriati". Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  2. ^ "Jennifer Capriati". Retrieved 17 May 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "100 Greatest of All Time". Yahoo. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  4. ^ a b "Capriati into Hall of Fame". 2014-04-12. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  5. ^ Finn, Robin (July 4, 1991). "TENNIS; Navratilova Finds 15 Beats 34 at Wimbledon". The New York Times. Retrieved September 21, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b "Jennifer Capriati Tennis". Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  7. ^ Horovitz, Bruce (June 26, 1990). "Athletic Firms Going to the Net in Quest for Next Tennis Celebrity". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  8. ^ "WHAT THEY'RE WEARING (AND HITTING WITH) AT THE U.S. OPEN". SportsBusiness Journal. August 28, 2000. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  9. ^ "What they're wearing (and hitting with) at Wimbledon". SportsBusiness Journal. June 25, 2001. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Jennifer Capriati". ESPN. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  11. ^ "Capriati to compete on reality show". Entertainment Weekly (Entertainment Weekly). Retrieved April 27, 2009. 
  12. ^ Who's Who of American Women 1999-2000 - Google Books. Retrieved 2013-05-17. 
  13. ^ Finn, Robin (11 December 1993). "Shoplifting an Accident, Capriati Says of Charge". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  14. ^ "Capriati prepared to seek counseling". The Milwaukee Journal. 14 June 1994. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  15. ^ "Capriati thought of suicide". The Milwaukee Sentinel. 26 September 1994. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  16. ^ "Capriati recovering after 'accidental overdose'". 29 June 2010. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  17. ^ Tresniowski, Alex (12 February 2001). "Jenny, Anyone?". Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  18. ^ "Ivan Brannan - Former Tennis Player Jennifer Capriati’s Boyfriend". 
  19. ^ a b Yan, Holly (2014-01-14). "Stalking charge against tennis star Jennifer Capriati dropped". CNN. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 

External links[edit]