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Capriati Earns Hall Of Fame Nomination

Jennifer Capriati, the teen prodigy who rose to No.1, has been nominated for induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012.

Published September 07, 2011 06:02

Capriati Earns Hall Of Fame Nomination
Jennifer Capriati

NEWPORT, RI, USA - WTA legend Jennifer Capriati, 35, has been nominated for induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012. The three-time Grand Slam champion and 1992 Olympic gold medalist is joined in the Recent Player category by two former No.1s from the men's game, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Gustavo Kuerten, as well as wheelchair tennis star Randy Snow, who has been nominated posthumously.

Click here for a photographic tribute to Jennifer's amazing career

Capriati turned pro in 1990, at the age of 13 and amid great fanfare. By the time she played her last competitive match in 1994 she had won 14 WTA singles titles, including the Australian Open twice and the French Open once. She had posted eight year-end Top 10 finishes, held the top ranking for 18 weeks, and in addition to winning gold for the US at Barcelona was on the winning Fed Cup side in 2000.

Capriati also etched her name into the history books with several "youngest-ever" records. In her debut season she became the youngest player to reach a WTA final (at her first event, Boca Raton, where it took Gabriela Sabatini to stop her); the youngest player to reach the semifinals at the French Open (eventual champion Monica Seles ended her run); the youngest seed ever at Wimbledon (at No.12); and the youngest player to qualify for the season-ending championships.

With her maiden title also pocketed that first year - she beat Zina Garrison in the final at Puerto Rico - Capriati established herself as a chief contender in the early 1990s. In 1991, she reached the semifinals at both the US Open and at Wimbledon, where the quarterfinal loss she inflicted on Martina Navratilova was the veteran's earliest exit from the All England Club in 14 years. In 1992, Capriati's Olympic triumph took in wins over both the second-seeded Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario and top-seeded Graf.

Though she struggled in the mid-to-late nineties and took an extended break from the game, Capriati won her first tournament in six years at Strasbourg in 1999. After that her career would reach new heights. 

In the final of the 2001 Australian Open, Capriati defeated world No.1 Martina Hingis in straight sets for her first Grand Slam title. At No.12 she was the lowest seed to ever win the event, a record that stands. Seeded fourth at the French Open a few months later, Capriati defeated top seed Hingis in the semis and No.12 seed Kim Clijsters in the final to win her second Grand Slam title. Indeed, Capriati was the only player to reach at least the semis of all four majors that season; on October 15 she rose to No.1 in the world.

In 2002, Capriati returned to Melbourne as the top seed and successfully defended her Australian Open title. Playing Hingis again in searing conditions, Capriati fought back from 64 40 down - and saved four championship points - to prevail 46 76(7) 62. The match is widely regarded as one of the greatest comebacks in tennis history, and was named one of the 10 best matches of the decade by Tennis magazine.

Indeed, later in her career Capriati played her part in several highly memorable matches, including back-to-back semifinals at the US Open in 2003 and 2004. In 2003, she lost a dramatic tussle with No.2 seed Justine Henin, 46 75 76(4), having been two points from victory 11 times. Twelve months later, having beaten a third-seeded Serena Williams in three sets in the quarters, Capriati, seeded eighth, was edged in another third set tie-break by Elena Dementieva. That would prove to be the 28-year-old's last Grand Slam appearance; she didn't return to the WTA after shoulder surgery in early 2005.

Legendary tennis coach Nick Bollettieri, who has guided 10 ATP and WTA stars to world No.1 status, has been given a nod by the Hall of Fame in the Contributor category; influential tennis promoter and administrator Mike Davies and Eiichi Kawatei, who has played a vital role in the growth of tennis in Asia, have also been nominated. Thelma Coyne Long of Australia and Manuel Orantes of Spain are to be considered in the Master Player Category.

Voting for the 2012 ballot will take place over the next few months, culminating with an announcement in early 2012 to reveal the Class of 2012 Inductees. The Class of 2012 Induction Ceremony will be held on Saturday, July 14, 2012 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island.

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