View Full Version : The Lost Years - what did Jen do?

Apr 3rd, 2002, 02:34 PM
Hi, I'm new to this forum.

I like Capriati a lot and it's great to see her doing so well. I remember when she arrived in 1990 and I was there when she beat Graf in Barcelona in 1992 (ended up with really bad sunburn - I'm scottish).

Without everybody responding with the obvious remarks - what DID Jen do all that time (1993 - 1995)? Any courses taken.....anything? Did she explore herself in any way that might surprise or enlightren us?

Genuinely wanting to know.

And I'm thinking the French Opn is on! This girl can defend slams.

Finally, I'm a lover of tennis in general, and I have been a fan of all of the great women of the last 15 years at some stage.


Apr 3rd, 2002, 03:21 PM
I don't know if anyone knows that, I haven't read it anywhere.
I'll post this article though, doesn't help much but is a good read.
Welcome :)

Teenage sensation became destiny's child
By Bob Carter
Special to ESPN.com

"For a short period of time, she became a normal American adolescent bedeviled by all the forces that the normal American adolescent has to deal with. She didn't like the world that was created for her through her talent and through what her parents wanted for her. She did what a lot of American kids do. She rebelled," says S.L. Price on ESPN Classic's SportsCentury series.
Capriati, who captured two Grand Slam titles in 2001 and successfully defended her Australian Open championship in 2002, will be profiled on Friday at 11 p.m. ET.

People in the know just knew Jennifer Capriati would be different. Unlike other teen sensations, she'd live up to the hype and handle the travel, physical demands and pressure. She was too big, too skilled, too aggressive, to not dominate the tennis world. Even before she was a teenager she was beating ranked 18-year-olds.


Jennifer Capriati reached the 1990 French Open semifinals in her first season as a professional.
The head pro at the renowned Harry Hopman tennis school in Florida watched her at 13 and praised her durability. "She doesn't remind me of any other player except Jimmy Connors," said Tommy Thompson. "She's got that same love of the game, of performing. I don't see her being the type to ever burn out."

Turning pro at 13 in March 1990, Capriati nearly fulfilled all the expectations before proving the experts wrong -- and then, years later, right. She went from successful teen pro to a dark period in which she gave up the sport for more than two years and, finally, to a revival that led to her fairytale triumph -- in her mid-twenties -- when she captured two Grand Slam titles in 2001 and successfully defended her Australian Open championship in 2002.

Capriati reached the French Open semifinals in her first season and gained a Top-10 ranking. She made the semis at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open the next year. She won an Olympic gold medal in 1992. She won five other tournaments over her first four seasons.

By 1992, though, she showed signs of discontent and rebellion, and by the next fall -- even after reaching three Grand Slam quarterfinals in 1993 -- she was gone from the Women's Tennis Association Tour, a flameout at 17. Weary of the pro grind and the rigors of fame, often bored and unhappy that she couldn't live a more normal life, Capriati eventually dropped as far from the tour as could be imagined.

After fighting an elbow injury for much of 1993, she lost in the first round of the U.S. Open and stopped playing. In December she was detained by police after shoplifting an inexpensive ring at a suburban Tampa mall. A month later, Capriati said she was leaving the tour until finishing high school in June.

She left home in Wesley Chapel, Fla., moving into a Boca Raton apartment with friends, and took on a grunge look, complete with nose ring. In May, a bloated and bleary-eyed Capriati was arrested at a Coral Gables motel on a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession. Two motel companions faced felony drug charges.

"Unfortunately, somebody with that much talent and that wealthy in so many ways should have the world by the tail," said former pro Pam Shriver. "But, as we know, it's never an automatic."

Fortunately for Capriati, drugs weren't the end. In a comeback that lasted years, she finally proved that she could beat the world's best when she won the 2001 Australian and French Opens. Those victories helped her gain the No. 1 ranking in October and the Associated Press' Female Athlete of the Year award.

Capriati was born March 29, 1976 on Long Island, N.Y. Her father, Stefano, was Italian; her mother, Denise, a New Yorker. Stefano was a former pro soccer player and movie stuntman who later worked in real estate and managed Jennifer's career. Denise worked as a flight attendant.

The family lived in Spain until Jennifer was 4, then moved to the Fort Lauderdale area. Stefano encouraged his daughter to play tennis at an early age, and Chris Evert's father, Jimmy, was one of her first coaches. Excelling in the junior ranks, at 12 Capriati often played in the 18-and-under division. By this time, Stefano was coaching and pushing her hard toward the pro tour.

Jennifer Capriati celebrates her 6-4, 6-3 victory over Martina Hingis in the women's singles final at the 2001 Australian Open.
In 1989, she became the youngest female player -- at 13 -- to win junior titles at the French and U.S. Opens and won the U.S. Clay Court 18s and Hard Court 18s. In September, she beat Britain's Clare Wood, 6-0, 6-0, the first Wightman Cup shutout in four years.

Her much ballyhooed pro debut came at the Virginia Slims of Florida event in Boca Raton, just weeks before the eighth grader's 14th birthday. A hard hitter at 5-foot-7 and 125 pounds, Capriati reached the final before losing to third-ranked Gabriela Sabatini, 6-4, 7-5.

"She doesn't have the body of a 14-year-old," Shriver said. "She has the body of someone 16 or 17. Players with her body type have been in the top five in the world the last few years."

Early on, Capriati never quite made it that high, ranking eighth in her first season and reaching No. 6 in the next two. Though she won no Grand Slam events until after the millenium, she triumphed in some memorable matches. In 1991, at 15 she became the youngest semifinalist at Wimbledon, where she upset Martina Navratilova in the quarterfinals, and the U.S. Open. She also beat top-ranked Monica Seles in a final at San Diego.

The next year at Wimbledon, she passed the $1-million mark in career earnings, at 16 years, 3 months the youngest ever. And she took Olympic gold at Barcelona, beating Steffi Graf in three sets for the singles title.

As the travel and tournaments built up, the cheerful, giggling youngster was replaced by a rebellious teen who argued with her father, sometimes telling him that she wanted to return home, that she missed her friends. In November 1992, she said she'd consider quitting the tour if she didn't enjoy it more than the previous season, which she called "a waste." This, a season of Olympic gold.

That same year, Capriati checked into a New Jersey hotel for a non-tour tournament and asked the desk clerk for the key to the mini-bar. The clerk, knowing she was 16, refused.

When she left the tour at 17, her father said, "She's not rebelling. She's testing everybody -- me, her mother, her friends. She wants to see how they react to her if she doesn't play tennis."

Within days of her marijuana arrest in 1994, an overweight Capriati, who would lose all her endorsement deals, entered a drug rehabilitation center -- her second such stint. She settled the marijuana charge by agreeing to six months of drug counseling and moved to Palm Springs, Calif., with her family.

After a 14-month layoff, she played in one tournament, then stayed away for another 15 months. Slowly, though, her comeback took shape. In Chicago in 1996, she reached her first final in three years, and climbed to No. 24 in the world after being unranked for two years. But her rise didn't continue. She slid to No. 66 and 101 the next two seasons before finding her stride.

With a new coach in Harold Solomon, she got her weight down and strength up. She won two titles in 1999, finishing with a No. 23 ranking, and reached the Australian Open semifinals in 2000, where she lost to eventual champion Lindsay Davenport.

Eleven years after appearing in her first Roland Garros tournament, Jennifer Capriati holds the 2001 French Open trophy.
When Solomon challenged her work ethic, Capriati dumped him and went back to her father for coaching. She also worked out more intently with her fitness trainer.

Capriati said her mother's encouragement played a big role in her comeback. At the time, Denise, who was divorced from Stefano in 1996, was fighting thyroid cancer. When she was feeling down, her daughter said, "Mom, we have fought a lot of battles and we have come through them. We can fight anything."

For Jennifer, the big payoff on the court came at the 2001 Australian Open. Seeded 12th, she defeated Seles in the quarterfinals, Davenport in the semis and Martina Hingis in her first Grand Slam final.

Capriati beat Hingis again four months later in the French semifinals in Paris and then outlasted Kim Clijsters in a dramatic final, 1-6, 6-4, 12-10. "I never thought I'd be standing here 11 years later," she told the crowd, "after playing my first time here when I was 14. Really, I'm just waiting to wake up from this dream."

The dream continued in 2002 as she again defeated Hingis in the Australian Open final, saving four match points before winning 4-6, 7-6, 6-2.

Apr 4th, 2002, 06:04 AM
Thanks veryborednow.

I didn't know she worked with Harry Hopman. Very interesting.


Apr 4th, 2002, 09:15 AM
no problem - oi, go to Jen's Den :)

They might know in there, Rollo is very good with that sort of thing :)