Re: The Jennifer Capriati Appreciation Thread
I donít know. She was only 15 at that point and even though she had just creamed a nervy Martina on grass, I donít think she would have won the final as easily. I felt like she should have won the semi and while it had to have been a painful loss, she had to think she had years of those opportunities in front of her. Didnít Her mother confess she didnít want her to win that soon? Or was that Wimbledon earlier that summer?
Obviously it had a huge effect on her because the Unruly Petulant Jen soon emerged thereafter. Sports Illustrated did an article on The Lipton (I still call it that!) the following spring and noted a marked difference in her demeanor, behavior and even looks that was not flattering.
She had two high points that year - one huge, the other kind of expected - first nailing Monica in Miami in straights and then that fantastic gold medal victory over Steffi in Barcelona. And that was it, back to mediocre petulant Jen. Would being the US Open title holder have changed all that? Probably, but itís hard not to see her as going through much of the same path given that she was 16 in 1992, had been on tour for 3 years and was completely the family bread winner. Even if she won that USO I think she still wouldíve have understandably rebelled.
14-17 are such difficult years for any kid, but can you even imagine going through that on the worlds stage? Starting out as the most popular fun 14 year old in the world and then going through the drastic personality searching phases we all do at that point, but with not only the world watching, but your sponsor Oil of Olay (why at 15!!) bearing witness to your first acne breakout?
I cannot imagine.
I donít think Jen had the solid support system, wherewithal and smarts that Martina Hingis, Monica Seles, Chris Evert and Tracy Austin did.
And really only Tracy went through the same experience but on a much smaller scale. Chris, Monica and Hingis were all 16 when monster celebrity firmly hit. Steffi as well.
But I would have LOVED Jen to have won that 1991 open and continued on the path that we all had projected her into the future, fighting Steffi and Monica toe to toe - youth always prevailing. It would have been so much more exciting and interesting and the sport would have greatly benefited - I donít think that 1994 SI cover story (is Tennis Dead?) would have existed had Jen risen up to their heights (and OBVIOUSLY Monica not been stabbed in this glorious fantasy scenario!).
Oddly the 90s mirrored the 80s for me in some ways. I always envisioned the 80s as Tracy, Andrea and Hana putting Chris and Martina firmly in their place for the entire decade. I thought Jen and Monica would do the same to Steffi as the 90s wore on.
Little did I know.