Newport, RI, United States (AHN Sports) – Former world No. 1 ranked professional tennis player Jennifer Capriati, whose career has been marked with notable accomplishments and off-court controversies, has been elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
The election of former teen prodigy Capriati, who went on to capture three women’s singles championships in Grand Slam tournaments, was announced Friday.
Capriati, elected to the Hall in the Recent Player category, will join a 2012 class that includes former men’s world No. 1 Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil, Spanish tennis legend Manuel Orantes and tennis administrator and promoter Mike Davies. Wheelchair tennis star Randy Snow will be inducted posthumously.
“I am thrilled to learn that I have been elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. This is a dream come true and an extraordinary tribute. I love this game and am incredibly honored by the Hall of Fame’s vote. Tennis has been my passion and dedication for my entire life, and to be acknowledged for this passion and dedication is truly icing on the cake,” the 36-year-old Capriati said in a statement.
Capriati, who made her much-publicized WTA debut in 1990 at the age of 13 years and 11 months, reached the final at her first event in Boca Raton, Florida, but lost Gabriela Sabatini.
Also that year, Capriati reached the semifinals at the French Open, her first Grand Slam tournament. She later became the youngest player to crack the world top 10 at age 14 years, 235 days in October 1990, in her first season on tour.
Capriati captured six singles titles between 1990 and 1993, including a Gold Medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, where she trounced Steffi Graf in the final. A year before that Capriati stunned defending champion Martina Navratilova in a quarterfinal clash at Wimbledon in 1991.
Capriati’s surge was put to a halt after she took a 14-month break from competitive pro tennis following a first round exit at the 1993 U.S. Open. Her personal struggles began to crop up during this time, which included arrests for shoplifting and possession of marijuana.
Capriati staged a comeback in 1996 and ended a six-year title drought in 1999 in Strasbourg, France.
After a strong 2000 campaign, the reinvigorated Capriati went on to capture her first Grand Slam crown after toppling then-world No. 1 Martina Hingis at the final of the 2001 Australian Open. Capriati then beat Kim Clijsters for the title at the French Open in the spring, before claiming the number one ranking in October 2001.
Capriati held the top spot in women’s world ranking for a total of 18 weeks.
In 2002, she successfully defended her Australian Open crown for her third Grand Slam title, highlighting one of the widely regarded great comebacks in tennis history.
Capriati became a mainstay in the top-10 rankings after that but injuries began to slow down the three-time Grand Slam champ. In 2004, Capriati retired with a career record of 430-176, including 14 professional singles tournament titles, along with one women’s doubles championship.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held July 14 during the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships.