Capriati, Kuerten headline Tennis Hall class
Newport, R.I. - Jennifer Capriati's tennis career - and her teenage life - took a number of twists and turns.
She started as a teenage prodigy, was later sidetracked with off-court troubles, rebounded to become a three-time Grand Slam champion and, now, her journey is complete with her induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Capriati and several others were inducted into the Hall during a 90-minute ceremony Saturday.
Joining Capriati were recently retired player Gustavo Kuerten, master player Manuel Orantes, tennis industry executive Mike Davies and wheelchair champion Randy Snow, who was honored posthumously.
In a tear-filled acceptance speech, the 36-year old Capriati remembered her great moments in the game and touched on some of her troubles off the court.
Capriati was presented by 2009 Hall of Fame inductee Monica Seles.
"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," said Capriati, breaking into tears during her acceptance speech. "This is one milestone I thought I'd never achieve."
She now feels as though her tennis career is fulfilled.
"It's been quite a journey," Capriati said at a morning press conference. "Here, I look back at all those really great things I've accomplished and the achievements I've had and those achievements I overcame."
As a 14-year old, she burst onto the scene fresh out of the eighth grade and reached the semifinals at her first Grand Slam event - the 1990 French Open.
Three years later, drug and other problems sidetracked her life and career. She temporarily dropped off the tour following the 1993 U.S. Open.
Her downturn didn't stop there. She was arrested that year for shoplifting at a Florida mall, and again the next year for marijuana possession. She also spent time in drug rehabilitation in 1994.
Capriati also feels she left the game a little earlier than she wanted because of injuries.
"It was tough having to leave the game," she said, cracking a bit with emotion. "It's like mourning a loved one that's gone and a relationship's that gone, a part of yourself. It wasn't easy, but something that's gone and what you loved to do.
"It took a while to accept that and let go. This is so great for me because it's putting a lot of closure to my career and I'm able to move forward, give thanks, take thanks, give the honor and take the honor, and just be acknowledged here. It means everything to me."
After dropping off the scene, she returned to the sport in 1996. Five years later, she reached those lofty expectations that were thrust upon her, beating past champions Seles, Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis en route to the 2001 Australian Open title and her first top-10 ranking in seven years.
The comeback didn't stop there - she followed that by capturing the French Open and was the only player to reach at least the semis in all four Grand Slams that year.
The highlight match of her career - and maybe one of the top performances in the game - was the 2002 Australian Open when she trailed Hingis 4-6, 0-4 before rallying to a three-set victory.
She won a gold medal for the United States at Barcelona in 1992. Her career ended in 2004 with a 430-176 record.
Kuerten was No. 1 in the world for 43 weeks and the clay-court specialist captured French Open titles in 1997, 2000 and "01.
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