Jennifer Capriati has been elected to the Hall of Fame in the Recent Player Category, and she is the final member of the Hall of Fame Class of 2012 to be announced. The previously announced members of the Class of 2012 are former world number one, Brazilian tennis star Guga Kuerten; Spanish tennis legend Manuel Orantes; tennis administrator and promoter Mike Davies; and wheelchair tennis star Randy Snow, who will be honored posthumously. The Class of 2012 Induction Ceremony was held July 14, 2012 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.
"Jennifer Capriati had one of the most accomplished and exciting tennis careers in recent years, and she is most deserving of the honor of Hall of Fame election. We look forward to celebrating this achievement with her and her fans,” said Christopher E. Clouser, chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
The 36-year-old Capriati is originally from New York, N.Y., but she has been a long-time resident of Tampa and West Palm Beach, Fla. When young Jennifer first stepped on the professional tour at the age of 13, she wasted no time in showing the world that a star had arrived.
In her first season on the WTA, Jennifer reached the finals of two of her first three pro events, and she advanced to the semifinals of the French Open before falling to eventual champion Monica Seles. She captured her first tour level victory in her first season on tour, which propelled her into the world top 10 at just 14-years-old, becoming the youngest player to ever accomplish the feat. Capriati closed out her first pro season ranked number eight in the world, a fresh, young name etched among an elite group of veteran tennis stars including Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Gabriela Sabatini, and Martina Navratilova.
Braced by powerful groundstrokes, a gutsy playing style, and fierce determination, Jennifer established herself as a consistent top-10 player in the years that followed. In 1992, she captured the Olympic gold medal at the Barcelona games, defeating both the second-seeded Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario and the top-seeded Stefanie Graf.
After taking a break in the mid to late 1990s, Jennifer came back in full force in 1999, recommitted to the game, stronger than ever, and driven by a competitive spirit that elevated her to untouchable. In 2000, she added to her growing list of tennis achievements as an integral player on the championship United States Fed Cup team.
Jennifer’s comeback kicked into full gear when she overcame top seed and world No. 1 Martina Hingis at the 2001 Australian Open to capture her first Grand Slam title. Having entered the tournament seeded 12th, she was the lowest seed to ever win the title, a record that still stands today. She then entered the French Open seeded fourth, and defeated number one seed Hingis in the semifinals and 12th-seeded Kim Clijsters in the finals to win her second consecutive Grand Slam title. She was the only player that year to reach at least the semifinals of all four of the Grand Slam tournaments.
The tennis world was already giving Jennifer high marks for a stellar comeback when she went ahead and clinched the image as one of the toughest competitors on tour at the 2002 Australian Open. Once again she faced Hingis in the final. In brutally hot weather, the score read 6-4, 4-0 in favor of Hingis, when Jennifer’s fighting spirit kicked in. She saved four championship points to eventually prevail 4-6, 7-6, 6-2, to claim her third Grand Slam title. The match was widely regarded as one of the greatest comebacks in tennis history. The dramatic match earned her the 2002 ESPY Award for Comeback Player of the Year, for which the other nominees were Hockey Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux and Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. To this day, the match is widely regarded as one of the greatest comebacks in tennis history.
Jennifer stopped playing at the end of the 2004 season, having compiled a career record of 430-176 and having won 14 career singles titles and one doubles title.
She was selected as The Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year but 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.