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Jennifer Capriati has been honoured for an incredible year by being named Reuters sportswoman of the year. <br />The American beat compatriots Venus Williams and Marion Jones, who finished equal second, with Croatian skier Janica Kostelic in fourth.

Forty sports editors and journalists from 31 countries made three nominations each, with Capriati receiving 61 points to 27 for Williams and Jones. <br /> <br />Capriati made a stunning return to the top flight of tennis in 2001 after a much-publicised fall from grace.

She won the Australian and French Opens and looked on course for a Grand Slam, before losing in the semi-finals at Wimbledon.

But she recovered to claim the world number one ranking for the first time in October, and ended the year as the International Tennis Federation's world champion.

Venus Williams dominated the second half of the year, retaining her Wimbledon and US Open crowns.

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Tuesday December 18 5:19 AM ET <br />Capriati Wins Reuters Sportswoman of Year Poll<br />Photos

Reuters Photo<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />By Joanne Russell

LONDON (Reuters) - Jennifer Capriati, who put behind her troubled past to win both the Australian and French Opens, is the Reuters sportswoman of the year.

American Capriati was the clear winner with 61 points out of a possible 120, ahead of Wimbledon (news - web sites) and U.S. Open (news - web sites) champion Venus Williams (news - web sites) and U.S. sprinter Marian Jones who both got 27 points.

Croatian alpine skier Janica Kostelic gained 26 points.

Forty sports editors and journalists from 31 countries nominated up to three leading sportswomen of 2001. Each first place choice was awarded three points, second placed got two points and third place received one point.

Capriati, whose promising career was derailed when she lost interest in her sport and dabbled in drugs, made an astonishing comeback this year, winning two grand slams and finishing the year ranked second behind Lindsay Davenport.

``Capriati (wins) because with her achievement of two grand slam victories in 2001 she has proved that dream comebacks are possible if you try and work hard enough,'' said Ori Lewis at Ha'aretz English Edition in Israel.

Capriati was chosen along with Australia's Lleyton Hewitt as tennis's world champions this year by the International Tennis Federation.

``Capriati completed a fairytale comeback,'' said Joseph Romanos at The Listener in New Zealand. ``In view of her past troubles, this is one of the great sports stories.''


Venus Williams won praise for retaining her U.S. Open crown in 2001, as well as her title at Wimbledon.

``(She) had a great year in tennis reaching her peak during the Wimbledon triumph,'' said Anthony Costantino at L-orizzont in Malta.

Marion Jones (news - web sites), the triple Olympic champion, was beaten for the first time in four years over 100 meters by Ukrainian Zhanna Pintusevich-Block at the Edmonton world championships. However, she bounced back to win the 200 and anchor the 4x100 relay team to victory.

``Ms Jones's performance at the world championships showed not only her athletic form but also her charisma,'' said Andre Fontenelle at Placar in Brazil.

Other sports editors opted for Janica Kostelic who dominated the women's World Cup last season, winning eight of the nine slalom races and taking the slalom trophy as well as the overall title.

But immediately after the season's end in March she underwent surgery on her left knee and had further operations in May and September.

``Courage, technique, concentration, discipline, stamina...skiing has it all, and Kostelic produced an extraordinary sequence of results,'' said Jeremy Walker at Asahi Shimbun in Tokyo.

U.S. pole vaulter Stacy Dragila, who got 25 points in the poll, won plaudits for retaining her world outdoor title and setting seven world records during the year, culminating in 15.87 feet in Palo Alto in June.

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<br /><FONT SIZE=3><br />WONDERFUL!!<br /></FONT><br /><FONT SIZE=2><br />Congrats!! Jen!! You really have made a fantastic story for yourself!!<br /></FONT> <br />

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