Tennis Tales: The crazy, controversial, and brilliant timeline of Jennifer Capriati

Michael Graham
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 06: Former tennis player Jennifer Capriati speaks onstage the 30th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner to benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis at The Waldorf Astoria on October 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for The Buoniconti Fund To Cure Paralysis)

Very few tennis stars have a story to tell like Jennifer Capriati. Here, presented without comment, is her incredible timeline of life events.

1990: Appears on cover of Sports Illustrated at age 13. Makes professional debut aged 13 years and 11 months at Boca Raton, reaching the final.

1990: Makes French Open debut and reaches semi-finals aged just 14 years and 70 days. Following the tournament, she becomes youngest player to ever break into the top ten world rankings.

1992: Beats Steffi Graf to win an Olympic gold medal in Barcelona, aged 16.

1993: Charged with shoplifting a $15 ring from a mall kiosk.

She claims it was a misunderstanding, with her agent Barbara Perry saying: “It was an innocent mistake on her part. She was shopping with friends, she was distracted, and we’re viewing it as a minor incident.

1994: Arrested and charged for marijuana possession. She enters rehab in Miami beach, spending 23 days there.

1994: Following a failed return that ends in a US Open first round elimination, she contemplates suicide due to tennis burnout and self-image issues.

She later tells the New York Times: “Mentally, I just lost it. I really was not happy with myself, my tennis, my life, my parents, my coaches, my friend… When I looked in the mirror, I actually saw this distorted image: I was so ugly and fat, I just wanted to kill myself, really.”

1998: Drops out of the top 200 in the world but rallies to finish the year ranked 101.

1998: Wins first Grand Slam singles match in five years at Wimbledon.

1999: Wins first tournament in six years, triumphing at Strasbourg.

1999: Regains position in world top 20.

2000: Reaches first Grand Slam semi-final in nine years at the Australian Open.

2001: Wins two Grand Slam titles and rises to world number one.

2002: Retains Australian Open

2002: Kicked off the Federation Cup team following argument with non-playing captain Billie Jean King. The row is over Capriati’s refusal to cancel a private coaching session with her father, Stefano.

“Jennifer should have approached the rest of the team if she wanted some help but she didn’t,” said teammate, Monica Seles. “It was very unfair.”

King added: “Jennifer wanting to assert her independence and Stefano trying to assert his will. I stated the rules and they weren’t adhered to. It was a lot more than once and wasn’t fair to the team.”

Her relationship with her father would prove a constant source of controversy, with him often accused of pushing her too hard and holding too much sway over her.

2004: Final full season on the WTA tour before as a back injury began to plague her, finishing the year at world number 10.

2004: Retires from the tour, aged 28.

2010: Requires treatment for drugs overdose.

2012: Inducted into international tennis hall of fame.

2013: Charged with battery and stalking following allegations by former boyfriend Ivan Brennan but charges later dropped.

A spokeswoman for Capriati at the time denounced the stalking charges as “over-exaggeration”. Capriati also defended herself on Twitter, claiming: “I pushed a man that was verbally assaulting me.”

According to a police report, the ex-boyfriend claimed Capriati started screaming at him before punching him with a closed fist four times in the chest.

Brannan Jr. said he was eventually able to lock himself in the men’s locker room, according to the police report. Four days later, he went to police headquarters and outlined what he said were “seven other incidents pertaining to Capriati stalking/harassing/following” him.
A year later, Florida state attorney announce she has completed 30 hours community service in relation to the incident.