Jennifer Capriati is one of the most accomplished tennis players in American history. She has won three Grand Slam singles titles, as well as the women’s singles Gold Medal at the 1992 Olympic Games. During her career, Capriati has won 14 professional singles titles and 1 doubles title.
Born in 1976 in New York City, Capriati was introduced to tennis at a young age by her father, Stefano Capriati, a tennis coach and former boxer who currently serves as her daughter’s coach. At the age of ten, her family moved to Florida, where she was enrolled in a training program run by Jimmy Evert, the father of Chris Evert. Capriati took the tennis world by storm in 1989 by becoming the youngest player to win the French Open junior singles title at the age of 13. She went on to win the junior singles title at the 1989 US Open, and the junior doubles titles at both the US Open and Wimbledon.
Capriati turned professional in 1990 at the age of 13. In her debut tournament on the tour, at Boca Raton, Florida, she defeated four seeded players on her way to becoming the youngest-ever player to reach a tour final. Three months later, she became the youngest-ever semifinalist at the French Open, and she won her first top-level singles title that October in Puerto Rico. Capriati reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon and the US Open in 1991, becoming Wimbledon’s youngest-ever semifinalist after defeating the defending-champion Martina Navratilova in the quarterfinals.
At the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, Capriati became the first American tennis player to win an Olympic Gold Medal. In the final, she defeated 1988 Gold Medalist Steffi Graf in three sets 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
After an extended hiatus from tennis, Capriati returned to the professional tour in 1996, winning the WTA Tour Comeback Player of the Year Award. In May 1999 she won her first tournament in six years at Strasbourg.
Capriati broke through at a Grand Slam in 2001, winning the Australian Open Final 6-4, 6-3 over World #1 Martina Hingis. She followed this up by capturing the French Open title five months later, beating Kim Clijsters in a dramatic final 1-6, 6-4, 12-10. In October 2001, Capriati attained the World No. 1 ranking. Capriati won her third Grand Slam title in 2002, when she successfully defended her Australian Open crown. In the final against Hingis, Capriati was 4-6, 0-4 down at one point, but battled back to win 4-6, 7-6, 6-2.
Despite a shoulder injury that sidelined her for most of 2005, Capriati remains one of the most dangerous and respected players on the WTA Tour. She lives and trains in Florida, where she promotes youth tennis and is involved in several worthy causes, including Tennis for Africa, which raises money for relief efforts in the continent.
Capriati was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012. She was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.