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Former pro-tennis player Jennifer Capriati is known for her incredible comeback after several personal struggles. In 1990 she was the youngest player to ever be ranked in the Women's Tennis Association top ten.
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Jennifer Capriati is a former professional tennis player, who in 1990 became the youngest player to ever be ranked in the Women's Tennis Association top ten. A gifted athlete from the time she was born, Capriati began watching her father play tennis as a toddler, beginning lessons by the time she was in kindergarten. After moving to Florida, she started taking lessons from Jimmy Evert,
the father of former tennis star Chris Evert. In 1990 she made her professional debut at just 13 years old, winning her first professional tournament in Puerto Rico later that year. After several personal struggles including drug possession she took a break from the sport, returning in 2001 with an incredible comeback. She has won 14 professional tournaments throughout her career.
Tennis player Jennifer Capriati was born on March 29, 1976, in New York. Her mother, Denise, was a flight attendant, and her father, Stefano, was a former Italian professional soccer player turned movie stuntman turned tennis instructor. The Capriatis decided to move to Long Island, New York before having kids so that their children would be American citizens.
Family legend holds that Jennifer Capriati began playing tennis while still in the womb. Approximately 17 hours before her birth, Stefano had taken Denise out to play tennis. "He knew she would be a tennis player before she was even born," her mother later said. Capriati was a precociously gifted athlete from the time she was an infant. She learned to swim before she learned to crawl and was able to swing all the way across a set of monkey bars before she could walk.
As a young toddler, she played on the side of the tennis courts, chasing down balls during her father's hitting sessions. Stefano began giving his daughter tennis instruction when she was 3 years old, and her prodigious talent immediately became apparent. After less than a year of playing the game -- all before she began kindergarten -- she could sustain long rallies and return balls shot from a ball machine.
When Jennifer Capriati was 4 years old, the family moved to Lauderhill, Florida, so that she could play tennis year round. Jimmy Evert, an acclaimed tennis instructor and the father of tennis superstar and former child prodigy Chris Evert, lived in nearby Fort Lauderdale, and the Capriatis asked him to begin teaching their daughter. Although Evert initially refused, saying he could not teach such a young child, once he saw her play he immediately changed his mind.
For the next five years, Capriati took lessons from Evert and continued to develop her sensational talents. By the time Capriati was 10 years old, she had run out of competition in her hometown of Lauderhill. "She was beating every player in town," Evert recalled later, including skilled adult men.
In pursuit of challenging competition, the Capriatis moved again, this time to Wesley Chapel, Florida, near the Saddlebrook Tennis Center, a training facility for many of the world's best junior players run by legendary coach Harry Hopman.
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