Jennifer Capriati's Brilliant Highs & Terrible Lows in 5 Clicks
1. A TEEN PRODIGY
Jennifer Marie Capriati was like nothing U.S. tennis had ever seen. A 13-year-old who hit harder than women twice her age, she burst onto the scene in 1990 with an infectious smile and all-American innocence. Wearing a gold bracelet Chris Evert had given her, Capriati became a force on the tour, breaking into the top 10, reaching the semifinals of Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 1991 and winning the gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
2. DESCENT INTO DRUGS
After the Olympics, Capriati's life took a dark turn. That November, at 16, she was arrested for shoplifting a ring from a Tampa mall – a theft she claimed was accidental. As injuries stalled her career, she became enamored with the Miami social scene. By 1994, she had a drug problem and entered rehab after an arrest for marijuana possession. She didn't play a single tennis match in 1995, and it would be years before she found her footing again.
3. THE COMEBACK
For a prodigy who had fallen on hard times, Capriati's return to form was an incredible, inspiring story. After gaining back her strength in the late '90s, she finally achieved her life's goal – winning her first Grand Slam singles titles at the Australian and French Opens in 2001. "The kid has found herself a second life, and it's wonderful," tennis analyst Bud Collins said at the time.
4. THE RELAPSE
Injuries ended Capriati's career in 2004 at age 28. In the ensuing years, she would struggle to find purpose outside of tennis and also battle mental problems. In 2010, she was hospitalized for what was described as an accidental overdose of prescription medication. "She's in tremendous pain physically and mentally," her friend and fellow tennis pro Justin Gimelstob said. "She struggled with depression, and it's a tough story."
5. BATTERY CHARGE
Capriati's troubles continued in March 2013 when she was charged with stalking and battery after an alleged Valentine's Day altercation with ex-boyfriend Ivan D. Brannan Jr. The outcome of this latest brush with the law remains unclear. But for friends and family, the hope is obvious – that this former champion can, despite her troubles, once again turn her life around.