Here's a few more stories:
A true fighter inspires a legendary fight-back
By KAREN LYON
Sunday 27 January 2002
Inspirational friends: Jennifer Capriati and Darren Bartholomeusz, whom she thanked in her victory speech at the Australian Open yesterday.
Picture: JOHN FRENCH
An unassuming 26-year-old was the inspiration behind Jennifer Capriati's sensational comeback victory in yesterday's women's final.
Darren Bartholomeusz, from the outer north-western suburb of Hillside, near Sydenham, found himself the centre of attention when Capriati singled him out for special thanks during her victory speech.
"I was struggling on the court today but it's no comparison to a lot of the friends who I have who are struggling right now, and especially one in particular right now, I'd like to say, Darren, thanks for coming and I love you," she said.
Capriati, who has formed a special bond with the CanTeen organisation - which helps young suffers of cancer - said later that Darren was in her thoughts while she sweltered on centre court. She realised her trials were nothing compared to his.
Darren has supported Capriati all week, attending all of her matches, and when it looked unlikely he would be able to attend yesterday's final, he made the defending champion a video.
The simple message to Capriati was that she was a legend or as he put it, "a ledge".
Darren suffers from bone cancer and has been told by his doctors the cancer is too far advanced for medical help, so he simply refuses treatment and chooses to fight the disease in his own way. Because Capriati, the world's No.1 tennis player, believes in him, he has found the strength to fight.
The pair became friends when Darren was offered tickets by Capriati's mother Denise to attend the Australian Open in 2000. Although a sports fan, Darren admits he never really followed tennis until he met Jennifer. He was stunned by his friend's public show of affection.
Because his hearing is severely affected by the cancer, Darren's family and friends told him of Capriati's speech as the crowd cheered. "My friend, he just put my hand in the air and he was cheering, I can't believe it," he said. "For her to say such words, nobody has ever said such words."
He said Capriati's strength and belief in him inspired him. Although he needed an oxygen tank, Darren was determined to watch his friend win her second Australian Open and never doubted she would fight back for the victory.
"I had to come out today, I had to see Jen and I had to see her win," he said. "I was confident, she is a fighter and I knew she would come back. When she won that second set, I knew she would win the third."
Another one from 2000:
Serving up goodwill
By LINDA PEARCE
Tuesday 25 January 2000
Jennifer Capriati was reading the paper last week, an edition that includeda publicity shot of herself splashing happily in a fountain the day beforethe start of the Australian Open, when another item caught her eye. It involveda sports-loving young cancer sufferer, bald from the treatment of her inoperablespinal tumor, playing on a swing.
Soon after, a phone callwas made from one of the city?s five-star hotels to the headquarters of teenagecancer support group CanTeen, located opposite Melbourne?s Royal Children?sHospital. On the line was Denise Capriati, asking at her daughter Jennifer?sbehest if a group of young people would fancy a day at the tennis and ifso, which afternoon would suit them?
How often do you see convenientphotos of image-troubled sports stars visiting hospital wards, or graspingthe next picture opportunity with the ill or underprivileged? Far more oftenthan a player or her family taking the initiative, making private arrangementsand expecting nothing in return, according to staff on the WTA Tour.
Yesterday, four cancer-sufferersand CanTeen?s Victorian coordinator Ruth Anderson were collected in a courtesycar by Denise Capriati, issued with player guest passes and escorted to MelbournePark. They wore Open hats and had a drink on the sponsors, taking up theirseats in Rod Laver Arena for Nicolas Kiefer?s fourth-round win over WayneFerreira.
While Jennifer Capriati preparedfor her afternoon doubles match with Australia?s Jelena Dokic, her guestswere taken into the player lounge for a dreamed-of meeting with Anna Kournikova."It was a big thrill,?? said Darren Bartholomeusz, a 24-year-old amputee."I was just upset that I didn?t have my camera out.??
Later they cheered for Capriatiand Dokic out on court three in their doubles match against Els Callens andDominique Van Roost. They sat in on Serena Williams? news conference in MelbournePark?s media amphitheatre, and then spent some more time meeting and greetingTodd Woodbridge, Darren Cahill, more Anna.
"It?s not for any kind ofpublicity or anything like that,?? said Capriati. "I just wanted to invitethe kids to see if they would have a good time and enjoy it. I?m really happythat I can provide them with that and it just makes everything a little bitbetter. It kind of puts it all in perspective.??
Capriati, of course, hashad her own problems, but her very public pains were of the growing, ratherthan health-related variety. "That?s part of life, you have to go throughthe hard times to grow and get wiser,?? Denise Capriati said. "She?s happynow, and she feel?s good about herself. The tennis was always going to comeback if she was happy.??
She is also hoping and expectingher daughter?s maiden initiative is the first of many. "I think Jenniferis really starting to look outside her own life now. Actually it?s been therebut I don?t think she was ready; she was still getting her own life in orderand now that she feels really good about herself, she?s ready to help giveback.??
The unseeded Capriati todayplays Ai Sugiyama in her first grand slam quarter-final since 1993, the yearbefore she temporarily dropped off the tour as she struggled to cope withthe pressure of teenage fame. She travels often with her mother, and sometimeswith her father, Stefano, or 20-year-old brother, Steven, a Florida universitystudent.
As her appetite for tennishas returned, so has Capriati?s potent game. A ranking that fell off thecomputer in 1994-95 will soon be back into the top 20. And a life that isnow back on the rails led to a treasured outing yesterday for Bartholomeuszand 20-year-olds Kate Sheales (who unfortunately failed to see out the day),Alison Kuter and Andrea Jansen.
"It was a great surprisefor us,?? said Anderson, who admitted she did not doubt the identity of theAmerican woman who left the initial out-of-the-blue message, on the basisthat "the accent was the giveaway!??
CanTeen is the AustralianTeenage Cancer Patients Society, a self-funded organisation providing supportand educational and recreational programs for cancer patients aged 12-24.
Denise Capriatihas two healthy children, Jennifer and Steven, aged 23 and 20. She is alsoinvolved with a centre for abused and neglected children in Chicago. Andnow her daughter is also seeing the bigger picture.
"I think Jen?s ready to dosomething she really believes in and participate and become involved,?? shesaid. "We have a lot of time in between matches and you can?t go shoppingevery day! We just don?t realise how much help we can give.??