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Capriati Family Spokesperson Denies Suicide Allegation

Sun Sentinel

Former tennis prodigy Jennifer Capriati went from being the poster child for burnout at 17 to a cinematic-type rise to No. 1 in her sport at 25, but finds herself back in the news for a medical emergency.

The 34-year-old three-time Grand Slam champion was taken from her Singer Island condo to a hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida, early Sunday morning for what a family spokesperson is describing as, "an accidental overdose of medication prescribed to Jen by her personal physician.''

Spokesperson Lacey Wickline has called published reports that have categorized the incident as a suicide attempt as "completely inaccurate,'' and that Capriati is, "recovering fully and speedily.''

Capriati, who grew up in Lauderhill and made her pro debut three weeks before her 14th birthday at the Polo Club in Boca Raton, told the Daily News in a 2007 interview that she was dealing with suicidal impulses after multiple shoulder and wrist surgeries had kept her off the circuit since November 2004, when she was still ranked 10th.

"It's like you're being taken over by a demon. You just feel there's no way out of this space you're in. It feels like the end of the world,'' she said in the interview. "When you are just so exhausted and tired of feeling that way, you [think], 'I want to be off this planet right now.''

"Jen will be OK. God is good,'' Capriati's mother Denise texted this week to Justin Gimelstob, a former ATP tour player and family friend.

"She's in a tough way, physically and mentally. Depression is an illness,'' Gimelstob said from Wimbledon, where he is an analyst for Tennis Channel.

"She would say, "At least when I play tennis I have something to do; I have structure. But without tennis who am I?'

"That's sad because she's an amazing woman and needs to believe that.''

After winning five titles and an Olympic gold medal before turning 17, Capriati was arrested in 1993 for shoplifting and again in 1994 in Coral Gables for marijuana possession.

Following a 15-month layoff, including a stint in a Miami drug rehabilitation facility, Capriati began a series of comebacks until reaching No. 1 in Oct. 2001, the same year she won two of her three majors.

Gimelstob is certain that Capriati, who has earned more than $10 million in prize money, has another comeback in her.

"She has tremendous character and is a fighter,'' he said. "She's fought through adversity before. It's just a matter of her doing it again.''

Staff writer Alexia Campbell contributed to this report.

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