Jennifer Capriati, who ran into trouble off the tennis court in the early part of her career before becoming a top ten women's tennis mainstay during the early part of last decade, was elected on Friday to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, according to reports. Capriati joins a 2012 class that includes Gustavo Kuerten, Manuel Orantes, Randy Snow and Mike Davies.
Capriati won the WTA's Most Improved Player in 1990, Comeback Player of the Year in 1996 and Player of the Year in 2001. (Reuters/John Gress)
''Tennis has been my passion and dedication for my entire life, and to be acknowledged for this passion and dedication is truly icing on the cake,'' said the 36-year-old Capriati. ''Finally, to all of my fans: You mean so much to me. I am, and have always been, blessed beyond words by your support both during and after my playing days. You unquestionably made this game so memorable for me and I miss you all so much.''
After a first round loss at the 1993 U.S. Open was when Capriati's career took a turn for the worst. While she took a 14-month hiatus from the tour, drug and other problems sidetracked Capriati, causing her ranking to plummet. She was arrested that in 1993 for shoplifting at a Florida mall, and again the next year for marijuana possession. She also spent time in drug rehabilitation in 1994.
Capriati then went two years, unranked, without playing a competitive match, but came back in April 1996. By the end of that year, she cracked the top 25, however, just two years later, her ranking again dipped, this time all the way down to No. 267.
It wasn't until 2001 that Capriati was able to play top-ten tennis. That year, she was selected as The Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year. Ranked 12 in the Australian Open, she won that tournament and later the French Open, cracking the top for the first time in seven years.
Since 2001, Capriati won the Australian Open in 2002 and reached the U.S. Open semifinals twice. She retired in 2004 with a career record of 430-176, including 14 singles titles and one doubles title.
Her induction ceremony will take place on July 14.
''We are delighted to hear the news that Jennifer has been elected to the Hall of Fame, said WTA chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster said in a statement. She indeed is one of our greatest players, known for her remarkable success and powerful style of play. Jennifer worked hard and fought hard. Congratulations to her on an honor well deserved.''
Here are some more tidbits about Capriati's up-and-down career:
- Capriati made her professional debut in 1990 at 13 years, 11 months old and reaching the finals of a tournament in Florida
- Just out of eighth grade at 14 years old, Capriati reached the semifinals of the 1990 French Open, her first Grand Slam tournament
- Capriati became the youngest ever player to crack the top 10 at 14 years, 235 days old in October of 1990
- Between 1990 and 1993, Capriati won six of her 14 singles titles, including a gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics
- Capriati didn't reach a major final until 2001 when she won the Australian Open. In fact, she became the lowest seed ever (12) to win that tournament, defeating number-one ranked Martina Hingis in straight sets
- Capriati became number one in the world for the first time on Oct. 15, 2001
- Capriati, ironically, won the 2002 Australian Open against Martina Hingis, this time as the top seed in place of an injured Lindsay Davenport. Ranked as the world's number two player, though, she came back to win after being down 6-4, 4-0, reclaiming her world number one ranking
- Capriati lost her world number one ranking when she lost to Serena Williams at the 2002 French Open in three sets
- In 2002, Capriati received an ESPY for Comeback Player of the Year
- In 2005, Tennis Magazine named Capriati the 36th greatest tennis player out of 40 in the 40 years leading up to then