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Capriati breaks down following loss to Seles
Posted: Monday September 06, 1999 09:40 PM
FLUSHING, New York (Ticker) -- The U.S. Open proved to be an emotional rollercoaster for Jennifer Capriati, with the high of a career resurgence that carried her into the fourth round and the low of repeatedly having to discuss a period of her life that she wishes to forget.
Capriati's U.S. Open run ended today with a 6-4, 6-3 loss to Monica Seles in a rematch of their 1991 semifinal meeting that is regarded as a classic in women's tennis.
She opened her post-match news conference by reading a letter she composed in which she expressed regrets about some of her past actions and sorrow for any pain she might have caused. In effect, the letter was a plea to the media to cease the constant questioning about her past.
"I made mistakes and yes, I am to blame and no one else," she read. "I am sorry to my loved ones that I humiliated and embarrassed. And I'm sorry to my fans who I feel I let down. I'm sorry to myself for causing such pain.
"But I've put a great deal behind me, moving forward in the right direction, the direction I feel is right. I feel like I've started a new chapter in my life and I need to leave the past behind. So this will be the final time that I speak about the past. I just ask that after today, you please respect my wishes."
But about 20 minutes later, Capriati, after patiently answering questions about her past and the loss to Seles, broke into uncontrollable sobbing after being asked if she still saw the media as her adversary. She put her head down on the table, then into her hands as she was unable to continue answering questions.
When asked if she wished to end the conference, Capriati shook her head and said, "it needs to be done", but left after saying "I just wish I didn't have to talk about this stuff all the time."
For the first time in a long time, Capriati has made observers pay attention to her tennis. Her victory at the Strasbourg International claycourt tournament in May was her first since 1993.
Earlier, Capriati said she had been contemplating issuing the statement for quite a while and felt the time was right.
"I was just tired of all the questions about my past, just all the mystery," Capriati said. "Just once and for all, I wanted to get it over with. I'm tired of like every time I read something about myself, I always read that little tidbit about the past. I just hope by doing this, it will sort of just end that chapter and I can start a new life."
Capriati said she composed her statement about a week before the Open and was waiting for the proper time to read it.
"When I felt the time was right, when it was appropriate," she said. "I wasn't sure after each match if I should have because I was like, 'Oh, I don't want to like jinx anything.' I just waited until at least I wasn't playing any more. I was going to do it maybe before the tournament started so it would set the ground rules for the rest of the tournament, but I didn't do that.
"It really did come from me. I'd been wanting to do it for a long time. It's just been nagging at me. I thought now would be the best time in that I've just been consistent with the way I've been doing in my tennis. It was just now that I felt, like, ready."
Capriati said she has no plans to talk about the drug allegations and the 'mysteries' she described in her statement.
"Right now, I don't think that's appropriate to talk about," she said. "I mean, that's something I will talk about, maybe to another group of people, someone who is just like going to relate to, who is really going to listen and take it directly to the heart. I mean, you're just going to kind of write it down on a paper for people to read. That's not something that I want. You know, I want them to hear it from my own words."
After some self-doubt earlier this year, Capriati said she is pleased with the way her tennis has gone, giving some of the credit to coach Harold Solomon.
"I've done better than I thought I would, really," she said. "I didn't know really what to expect, what kind of tennis I was going to play, what improvements I was going to make. I was just really thinking positive.
"With Harold coming into the picture, I was just thinking positive, that I was just going to do a lot better. It started in practice. I was just doing better. It went into the tournaments. I really didn't expect to win a tournament -- I didn't think it would come so soon. I think it would take a little while longer. I was just very happy about it."
Capriati said she felt she needs to make mental adjustments if she is to compete successfully against the top players.
"Mentally, I need to be at another level," she said. "I've got to get used to playing those kind of matches. I felt I got a little nervous there a few times in the match and just didn't really know how to handle the big points. When I play against the top players, they're not going to give me any free points. I've got to learn to be as tough as them."
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