Jennifer Capriati

Jennifer Capriati, in the opinion of many critics as well as her fellow tennis players was perhaps not the greatest tennis player of her generation, neither will she make her way into the book of legends but she was a model professional, overcoming her personal problems to play her heart out and give her all to the game that she loved so much. She began her career as a professional tennis player at the tender age of 14 years and was knocked out of her first tournament by Gabriella Sabatini in 1990. She was the youngest player ever to break into the top 10 of women’s tennis and she did it aged just 14 years and 235 days.

She won her first major title, the Gold Medal in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics where she defeated the highly fancied Steffi Graf in an almost one sided final. She lost in the first round of the 1993 US Open and after that, she took a sabbatical from the game that lasted for almost 14 months. During this time, she was in immense personal turmoil and to worsen things even more, she was caught red handed for shop lifting and was even arrested for the possession of marijuana and all these were documented by the world media in great detail adding to the turmoil that she was going through at that time.

After making her comeback to professional tennis, Jennifer Capriati had to wait for almost five years to win her first singles match since her return, which she did at the 1998 Wimbledon tournament. Over the next two and half years, Capriati slowly began to get her touch back and started to play the kind of tennis that had allowed her to break into the top 10 in 1990. She won the Strasbourg Open in 1999 that was to be the first title she had won in almost six years and in 2001, she defeated the much fancied world number one Martina Hingis to become the lowest ranked player to win the Australian Open. It was her first ever Grand Slam title and in the following months, she followed it up by winning the French Open title and claiming the number one spot in the world. It seemed that Capriati had buried her demons and would fulfill the immense potential that she had in her but that was not to be the case as injuries continuously plagued her throughout her career and her days as a professional player were numbered.

She did win the Australian Open in 2002 as well and that was to be her last ever Grand Slam title. Jennifer Capriati retired from professional tennis in 2004 on the back of several injuries, winning just 14 singles titles and one doubles title thereby ending a career that promised so much but delivered so little in the end. All in all, Capriati was a fantastic tennis player but she succumbed to injuries and her personal demons and could not do justice that her talent deserved.