10 years ago today: Capriati caps comeback

Wednesday January 26th, 2011

Ten years ago today, Jennifer Capriati defeated top-ranked Martina Hingis in the Australian Open final to capture her first-ever Grand Slam championship.

Capriati, who was seeded 12th, remains the lowest seed to win the title. The victory lifted the 24-year-old back into the Top 10 for the first time in nearly eight years -- the longest absence in WTA history.

Jon Wertheim recalled Capriati's long, strange trip in the Feb. 5, 2001 issue of Sports Illustrated:

Anointed as the next Great American Tennis Star in the early 1990s, Capriati played her first pro tournament at 13. At 14 she embarked on a "youngest-ever-to" tour de force, reaching the semifinals of the French Open, cracking the Top 10 and amassing millions in endorsements. By 17, sick of being commodified—fed up with the insufferable sponsors' parties, the corporate grip-and-grins, the photo shoots—and upset by the divorce of her parents, she became a standard-bearer for tennis burnout and teenage rebellion.

She was cited for shoplifting a cheap ring at a Tampa mall in December 1993 and arrested for marijuana possession at a Coral Gables, Fla., motel five months later. Having dropped off the tour, she did a stint of court-approved drug rehab and lost interest in tennis. Then, in fits and starts, she returned to the circuit, but the player once destined for greatness went five years without winning a match at a Grand Slam. "There was so much against me, there were times when I thought, Maybe this isn't worth it," Capriati said after Saturday's match. "But once I got over the hump and enjoyed the game and stopped worrying about the other stuff, I knew I'd break through eventually."

Capriati retired from the tour in 2005 due to shoulder and back injuries.

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