Before LeBron James, Freddy Adu, Michelle Wie and Bryce Harper made their marks as teenage phenoms, Jennifer Capriati burst onto the tennis scene as a 13-year-old. Capriati arrived as the future of American women's tennis, an über-teen ready to battle the likes of superstars Steffi Graf and Monica Seles. She was poised to replace the American throne that had been Chris Evert's and developed a large fan base at a young age.

The front and back ends of Capriati's careers featured ups, but the middle endured one of the ugliest falls to grace of any American athlete. Capriati's career is a story of rising up, getting knocked down and rising up again. This past week, Capriati's career took rose up to its apex, as she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Here is a year-by-year timeline of the career of Jennifer Capriati:

Jennifer Capriati: Career Highlights Slideshow



Just over two months after her 13th birthday, Capriati became the youngest player to ever win the French Open junior title. She followed with a Wimbledon junior doubles title and both a singles and a doubles junior title at the U.S. Open.



At 13 years and 11 months, Capriati made her professional debut at a hard court tournament in Boca Raton, Florida, losing in the finals to Gabriela Sabatini. Two events later, Capriati again made the finals, losing this time to Martina Navratilova at Hilton Head. She won her first pro event at the Puerto Rico Open, knocking off Zina Garrison. At the end of the season, Capriati was ranked No. 8 in the world. She was the youngest player ranked in the top ten, youngest to be a semifinalist in the French Open (losing to eventual champ Monica Seles), the youngest to win a match at Wimbledon (reached fourth round before losing to Steffi Graf) and the youngest to be seeded in Grand Slam history. Capriati also signed a $3 million deal with Italian clothing company Diadora after negotiation by her agent, John Evert, Chris Evert's brother.



Capriati added two titles in her second pro season, winning in San Diego and Toronto. She was a semifinalist at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, the youngest ever at both at age 15. At Wimbledon, Capriati dispatched nine-time champion Navratilova, who had reached the past 14 semifinals at the All-England Club. Capriati won the only professional doubles title of her career at the Italian Open partnered with Seles. She ended the season ranked No. 6.



A 16-year-old Capriati shocked the world at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics to win a gold medal. In the semifinals, Capriati defeated second-seeded Spaniard Arantxa Sánchez Vicario. She followed by upsetting the top-seeded Graf in the gold medal match. Capriati also defended her San Diego title and in Miami, her victory over Seles in the quarterfinals ended Seles' 21 consecutive finals streak. Capriati made quarterfinals at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, and she finished the year ranked No. 7.



Capriati won in January at an Australian Open tune-up in Sydney. This would be her last title before May 1999. Capriati again made quarterfinal appearances at the first three grand slams of the year, but at the U.S. Open, she suffered her first opening-match defeat at a grand slam, losing to Leila Meskhi. In December, Capriati stole a $35 ring from a store at a mall. She was cited for shoplifting and arrested. As a minor, Capriati's name could not be reported, but the story leaked. Despite being ranked No. 9, Capriati announced her intention to take a break from tennis in 1994.



On a Friday night in May in Coral Gables, Capriati attended a party with friends. After the party ended, Capriati rented a motel room to move the group to a new location. Capriati's party went on for two days, and the room was full of alcohol and marijuana. Capriati handed her bank card and car keys to anyone who needed anything. When police arrive, they arrested Capriati on a charge for possession of marijuana. Capriati's mug shot swept through the media. She also entered drug rehabilitation for the second time (reports surfaced she had spent time in a drug rehabilitation center in the spring). In October, Capriati played her only match of the season, a three-set loss in to Anke Huber in Philadelphia.



Capriati did not play one match in 1995, but her life still managed to be eventful. Her parents, Stefano (above) and Denise, got divorced. Many reporters blamed Capriati's parents for pushing her too hard, while others blamed Capriati's lifestyle for ruining her parents' marriage.



In Essen, Germany, Capriati returned in February, losing in the quarterfinals to Jana Novotná in three sets. By April, she re-appeared in the world rankings at No. 103. Despite first-round losses in her two grand slam appearances at the French and U.S., Capriati reached her first final in more than three years in Chicago in November. After defeating Seles, the co-No. 1 player in the world at the time, Capriati lost to Novotná in the finals. At the end of the season, Capriati had risen all the way to No. 24 in the world.



Capriati started off the season with a run to the finals at Sydney in January, knocking off world No. 9 Lindsay Davenport along the way. She lost the title match to Martina Hingis. Then an ankle sprain kept her out of most competition for the year, and she finished the season down at No. 66 in the world.



After missing the first couple months of the season with injuries, Capriati played a clay-court tournament in Hamburg, Germany as a wild card, making the quarterfinals. She made another quarterfinal at Palermo, Italy. Capriati also won her first-round match at Wimbledon, her first grand slam win in five years.



In May in Strasbourg, France, Capriati knocked off Elena Likhovtseva in the final for her first title in more six years. Capriati also won in Quebec City, and made fourth-round appearances at both the French Open and Wimbledon. Her final season ranking was No. 23.



At the Australian Open, Capriati made her first grand slam semifinal since the 1991 U.S. Open, losing to eventual champion Lindsay Davenport. Shortly after, at the Miami Masters, Capriati claimed a victory over a rising American star, world No. 6 Serena Williams. In April, right Achilles tendonitis took a bite out of Capriati's season, followed by a June elbow injury. Capriati rebounded in the fall to win a title in Luxembourg and return to the final in Quebec City for a runner-up finish.



As the 12th seed at the Australian Open, Capriati beat Seles in the quarterfinals and Davenport in the semifinals to make her first grand slam final. In the championship match, Capriati handled No. 1 Martina Hingis in straight sets to win her first grand slam. She was the lowest seed to ever win the tournament. The victory propelled Capriati to a No. 7 ranking. Her return to the top ten after nearly eight years was the longest in WTA history. At the French Open, Capriati defeated Hingis in the semifinals and Kim Clijsters in the final. Capriati was two points away from defeat four times against Clijsters in a match that saw a 12-10 third set. Capriati also made semifinal appearances at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.



With world No. 1 Davenport withdrawing due to injury, Capriati was given the top seed at the Australian Open. Down 6-4, 4-0 in a finals rematch with Hingis, Capriati stormed back, fending off four championship points, to win 4-6, 7-6 (7), 6-2. Capriati returned to the semifinals at the French Open, where she lost to eventual champion Williams. She also made quarterfinals appearances at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. At the ESPY Awards, Capriati was honored as Comeback Player of the Year.



Eye surgery affected Capriati's start to the season, and she lost in the first round at the Australian Open to Marlene Weingärtner. After a fourth-round exit at the French Open and a quarterfinal appearance at Wimbledon, Capriati claimed her final professional title in New Haven in August against Davenport. Capriati followed with a semifinals run at the U.S. Open, ending with a loss to Justin Henin. Capriati served for the match twice in the three-hour match.



In her final year on tour, a back injury kept Capriati out of early tournaments, including the Australian Open. But she made a final in May in Rome, the semifinals at the French Open and U.S. Open and the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. At the U.S. Open, Capriati defeated Williams in the quarterfinals before losing to Elena Dementieva in the semifinals. She finished the year at No. 10 in the world, then retired due to injuries.

previous next

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to read them first!