Quotable Quotes: WTA Legends On Capriati
Published July 18, 2012 12:00
NEWPORT, RI, USA - Three-time Grand Slam champion and former World No.1 Jennifer Capriati was inducted into the International Tennis Hall Of Fame over the weekend, and the stars of the WTA - past and present - were all too happy to share their thoughts and messages about the American tennis icon...
Venus Williams on Jennifer...
"I remember when Jennifer went pro - I think everybody remembers that first week she played in Boca. I was so young, but I can recall all the excitement around her and how amazing her game was. I also remember her comeback, and how excited for her I was when she won her first major - how much that meant for her and just for everybody who comes back in life.
"I always respected Jennifer as a competitor. We had some amazing matches, like that crazy final at Miami in 2001. I won in the end, but only after facing eight match points! The crowd was totally behind Jennifer. People loved her - she was someone they really related to. Win, lose or draw, I think that match is a testament - hopefully for both of us it's a match we'll never forget.
"Being inducted into the International Tennis Hall Of Fame is another amazing day for Jennifer in her career. It's awesome."
Martina Hingis on Jennifer...
"Jennifer was a great thinker on the court: it wasn't just boom, boom. She had a great sense for the game and the talent to do the right thing in the right situations. I got to know Jennifer when we practiced together at Saddlebrook in the late '90s. I was already No.1 and she was coming back and was probably No.80 or something. But she was the Queen of Saddlebrook anyway! Our practices were always intense and such high quality. I think from practicing with me, she regained her confidence and realized she could play at the elite level.
"We pushed each other to train harder. We knew if we played well against each other, we could go out there and beat pretty much anybody. And Jennifer started playing great matches again, against the Williams sisters and Lindsay and me. For power, athleticism and quality of game, she was right up there.
"She could read me well and I could read her... there are only a few players you ever feel like that with. By the time we played the two finals in Australia it was like oh, we could have played in the backyard! Of course it was nicer to play in a big arena, even though it didn't go my way! But what Jennifer achieved is amazing. I was always compared to her, because if I made a 'youngest' record it was only because my birthday was six months later in the year than hers. One thing I didn't manage was Olympic champion at 16 - that is incredible."
Mary Pierce on Jennifer...
"I've known Jennifer since I was 10 or 11 years old - we played junior tennis in Florida together. I remember playing 12 and unders, she was a couple of years younger than me and playing in the 14 or 16 and unders... and doing very well! So she was already amazing, a star, at such a young age. So talented. So gifted. And as we would see, incredible fighting spirit. Jennifer is someone I really appreciate - I can always just see her laugh and smile. We had a lot of things in common and as we grew up on the tour together we became really close, good friends. There was a group of us that were almost inseparable for quite a few years. We had a lot of great memories on the court, off the court.
"I had a back injury and so I wasn't able to defend my French Open title in 2001 - I could only watch the tennis on TV. Every year, if you are the defending champion at a tournament, inevitably someone is going to try and take away your title. I couldn't have been happier that it was Jennifer."
Barbara Schett on Jennifer...
"I'm so proud of Jennifer and what she has achieved. Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is a great honor... I'm honored that I actually played with her on the tour, played so many matches against her. I hope she enjoys the moment.
"I think Jennifer has been an exceptional player. Her timing was up there with the very best. She would hit the ball so clean, like almost nobody else. She was blessed with talent but also her work ethic. I remember when I was 13, my federation sent me over to America to the Harry Hopman Academy. We were the same age and I just couldn't believe the way she was practicing.
"Later, I just loved hanging out with her. She was just easygoing and relaxed. And she was - she is - a superstar. Very down to earth. For me, as the little Austrian, it was very nice to be able to hang out with her and have dinners and watch movies. Off the court she was not somebody who did her own thing and didn't look left or right. She kind of let us be part of her life, which was great."
Lindsay Davenport on Jennifer...
"Everything that Jennifer accomplished career-wise, and even the backstory, makes Jennifer a worthy inductee to the Hall Of Fame. This was a player who had so much expectation on her, and just when people had given up on her she came back to win Grand Slams. Her victories in Australia will always stand out for me - especially against Hingis in 2002, when she came back from a set and 4-0 down. Jennifer's a fighter... she fought her way into the Hall of Fame.
"When Jennifer first came out of tour she had these great groundstrokes and everyone compared her to Chris Evert. But when she came back she was a power player and had developed her forehand into a real weapon. That, plus her speed and her attitude, made Jennifer a great champion. We played against each other many, many times and they were always tough battles. We were the same age, from the same country, two completely different personalities. We were polar opposites, but we definitely had a mutual respect for each other."
Iva Majoli on Jennifer...
"I think Jennifer's an unbelievable athlete - I mean, she was a superstar at 14 years old. Her all-around game was great and she was a tremendous mover, anticipating so well on the court. It was really hard to make a winner against her. Sometimes I watch her old matches and I think I can't believe she got to that ball and made a winner out of it. She never gave up, she played till the end, always. That's something I always admired about her. More than that, Jennifer has the biggest heart. She's a very good person. I think she always had trust in me and knew I was her friend and that went both ways. I always found it tough to play against close friends, and with Jennifer I was probably closest. Luckily we didn't play too much and when we did, we just tried to forget about it!
"To come back the way she did and get to No.1, you have to be special. I think if anybody deserves to be in the Hall Of Fame, she's the one. It's the biggest honor you can receive after such a successful career."
Martina Navratilova on Jennifer...
"The first time I played Jennifer was at Hilton Head, where they used to stage the Family Circle Cup. She had just come on the scene and was only 14. I won the match but I was like, 'God this kid's gonna be good.' Then I lost to her in the quarters at Wimbledon the following year - a crazy, rain-delayed match.
"Jennifer didn't really have any weaknesses. She moved well, had a good serve, a great forehand and backhand. If she came to the net she could put the ball away. It was really hard for me when I played her to know where to go.
"There's no doubt that Jennifer should be in the Hall Of Fame. Although she took breaks from the game, she has both the quality of record and the longevity. She played one of the all-time great matches at Roland Garros, beating Kim Clijsters in the final in 2001, 12-10 in the third. She won a couple of Australian titles and if she had beaten Monica Seles in the semis of the 1991 US Open she almost certainly would have beaten me in the final!"