Men's Tennis
ATP Rankings
Women's Tennis
WTA Rankings
 Wednesday, September 8
Once again, Capriati leaves Open in tears
Associated Press

 NEW YORK -- Jennifer Capriati spoke of her teenage rebellion and confusion as she sought to close the door on her past. Yet she revealed how fragile she remains, once again leaving the U.S. Open in tears.

An hour after losing to Monica Seles 6-4, 6-3 in the fourth round Monday, Capriati began a news conference by reading a statement she wrote before the tournament and saved until she was finished.

"I know there is much mystery, much question to what happened, and I must also say many lies," Capriati, 23, said of the collapse of her career in 1993, her subsequent arrests on shoplifting and drug possession charges, and her rehabilitation.

"Yes, I made mistakes by rebelling, by acting out in confused ways," she said, taking deep breaths as she read. "But it was all due to the fact I was very young and I was experiencing my adolescence. Most of you know how hard that can be. When you do it in front of the world, it is even harder."

She spoke of taking a different path than other players, learning a lot about herself and life along the way.

"If I knew there would be so much pain in learning life's lessons," she said, "I would have been hesitant to take the path that I took. It's the only thing I do regret.

"Let me say that the path I did take for a brief period of my life was not of reckless drug use, hurting others, but it was a path of quiet rebellion, of a little experimentation of a darker side of my confusion in a confusing world, lost in the midst of finding my identity.

"I made mistakes, and yes, I am to blame, and no one else. I am sorry to my loved ones that I humiliated and embarrassed. And I'm sorry to my fans who feel I let them down. I'm sorry to myself for causing such pain."

Capriati said she has put much of her past behind her and feels she's moving in the right direction as she starts a new chapter in her life. She added that this would be the last time she speaks about the past, and asked the media to respect her wishes to stay away from the subject.

She said the statement was something she had been wanting to write for a long time, and that this felt like the right moment. She had told her father about it -- Stefano Capriati sat in the interview room listening to her -- but hadn't told her mother, who is divorced from her father.

Then in response to questions about her statement, Capriati said she wrote it because she was "tired of all the questions" about her past, "all the mystery. Just once and for all, I wanted to get it over with."

Yet, Capriati never really clarified the events that led to her arrests or what happened to her afterward. The "mystery" remains untold, and Capriati said she's still not ready to talk about it publicly.

Told that other athletes have experienced a sense of relief sometimes after talking openly about their problems, Capriati said she thought that's what reading her statement would do for her and that she wanted to make sure she explained herself the right way.

"I just really didn't know how to handle it, just how to go about saying it, afraid I was going to say something wrong," she said. "I didn't know really what to say that was just going to be right or I wasn't going to get in trouble. ... Maybe that's why I've played with a lot of anxiety."

Until that point in the long news conference, Capriati kept her composure, talking about her statement, her "self-inflicted" problems, the match with Seles.

Then she was asked, "Do you still see the media as your adversary?" Capriati hesitated. She has been the subject of mostly sympathetic stories her entire career, despite her troubles, yet she remains wary of the media.

"I'm going to start crying. It's nothing bad, it's just ..."

Capriati broke off and began sobbing uncontrollably.

"It's just a little overwhelming, that's all," she said.

A WTA Tour representative, Jim Fuhse, asked her if she wanted to stop. Capriati shook her head.

"It needs to be done," she said.

"We can stop if you want to," Fuhse said.

"I just wish I didn't have to talk about this stuff all the time," Capriati said, sobbing more heavily.

Fuhse led her away, and her father came over to put his arms around her. Outside the interview room, a reporter who has long known her also tried comforting Capriati as she kept crying. Finally, after a few minutes, Capriati made her way down the hall to the locker room and away from the Open.

She had left tournaments in tears before -- the U.S. Open in 1992 after losing in the third round, the Australian Open in 1993 after losing in the quarters, among others. She spoke now of being stronger than in those days, being able to keep things in perspective, yet she remains in some ways as fragile as ever.


Capriati loses to Seles, tries to put past behind her

Novotna announces retirement from tennis

Agassi, Kafelnikov advance, Rios bounced at Open

 Jennifer Capriati reads a statement to the press.
wav: 281 k
RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6