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Saturday, 27 January, 2001, 04:12 GMT
Capriati confirms her status
BBC Sport Online charts Jennifer Capriati's remarkable turnaround from teen rebel to back-to-back Grand Slam title winner.
Victory over Kim Cljisters in the final of the French Open offers further proof - if any were needed - that Jennifer Capriati's career is well and truly back on course.
Her tough three-set win over the Belgian made her only the fifth woman to claim both the Australian Open and French crowns in the same year, keeping her course for the Grand Slam.
If she wins all four of tennis's "majors" she will be the first female player to achieve the feat since Steffi Graf in 1988.
Capriati's form since winning Down Under in January has proved her comeback is no flash in the pan.
In six events between Melbourne and Paris, she failed to reach the semi-final or final only once and added the WTA Family Circle Cup to her collection.
It is still hard to credit that this is the same player who, beset by personal problems, looked to have well and truly burned out before leaving her teens.
Capriati's breathtaking victory over Martina Hingis in Australia was a feat many predicted she would accomplish at the start of the 1990s.
Then, at the age of 14, Capriati revelled in her reputation as the brightest young thing the game has ever seen.
Her smile illuminated matches, her giggle interrupted press conferences and record books were re-written.
The American boasted a bank balance that most teenagers could only imagine in their wildest dreams.
In 1994, it was flashed around the world as a dishevelled, embittered vision of a young rebel.
Her downfall was captured in a mugshot issued by Florida police after Capriati was arrested for cannabis possession and shoplifting.
It was almost as painful a process to haul herself out of the abyss.
For four years later, at Wimbledon, she hinted at a successful return by winning her first match at a Grand Slam since making the 1993 French Open quarter-finals.
But the British tabloids were too much for her fragile state.
Her tears and anguished face, as she wrestled with the demons of her recent past became the new, enduring image.
But she refused to quit the game at which she had once excelled and continued to work hard to reclaim her lost status as one of its brightest young talents.
It finally paid off when, looking tremendously fit and determined, she beat Hingis for the first time to take the Aussie title.
But Capriati knew that, despite beginning a new chapter in her story, the previous ones still made interesting reading.
"Let's talk about the now and today, or the future - all the rest is past history. I think that monkey has been off my back for a while now."
Hers is a salutary tale, and crucial for the self-esteem of the sport of tennis itself.
For while there have been other proteges who have burned out - Tracey Austin, Andrea Jaeger and Mirjana Lucic - Capriati is the only one to have come out fighting the other side.
So concerned were the sport's administrators that Capriati's fall from grace precipitated a change in WTA Tour rules.
They now state that players under the age of 18 can only play a limited number of tournaments a year.
She was the fourth youngest ever to win a Tour title, behind Jaeger, Kathy Rinaldi and Austin.
In 1990, aged 14, she became the youngest ever semi-finalist in Grand Slam history when she made the last four at Roland Garros.
Weeks later, she was the youngest-ever seed at Wimbledon, and the youngest ever to win a main draw match there.
Thereafter, still aged 14, she was the youngest ever player to be ranked in the top 10.
In 1991, aged 15, she had become the youngest ever Wimbledon semi-finallist.
But Capriati came to resent the price she had paid for success, angered at the way she had sacrificed her childhood and by her lack of freedom as a teenager.
So she she went off the rails, but after almost a decade in the wilderness, she is well and truly back to her best.
As she explained after her Melbourne triumph: "The reason I came back is because I love tennis and always will do.
"I guess my expectations are going to be higher now after this, but it's exciting. It's just like the good old days."
After Roland Garros, she is already anticipating the next stage of her Grand Slam quest - Wimbledon.
"I like the grass, I feel comfortable on grass, I can't wait to play on it.
" But I'm going to take some time to rest, regroup, freshen up, forget about this and go on to the next one."
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