At the tender age of 14, Jennifer Capriati burst onto the sports scene to dominate the world of tennis. It would be the beginning of a long and sometimes drama-filled road for Capriati, but now the 36-year old is being recognized in a top honor for her achievements on the court, bringing all of her hard work to a pinnacle.
Capriati was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on Saturday, a tearful ceremony that saw her introduced by 2009 inductee Monica Seles. She was joined by Gustavo Kuerten and Manuel Orantes, among others, and said she will finally be able to bring some closure to an amazing career.
The tennis star fell into some troubled times as a teenager, getting busted for pot and shoplifting from a Florida mall. She also saw some tough defeats and actually dropped out of the game briefly due to injuries and drug addiction. Later, she had painful surgery on both eyes to remove “sun spots”. Through it all, however, she never lost her passion for the game and eventually came back stronger than ever, winning a gold medal for the U.S. in Barcelona in 1992 and breezing through several championship games to earn the title of Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year in 2001.
“I still managed to overcome some adversity, win a Gold Medal, win some Grand Slams and stand at the podium at the Hall of Fame,” Capriati said tearfully. “This is one milestone I thought I’d never achieve.”