Born in Long Island, Capriati was taught to play tennis at a very young age by her father, Stephano Capriati, who continues as her coach. As a youth she was coached by Jimmy Evert, father and coach of Chris Evert. Turning pro on March 5, 1990 at age 13, Capriati reached the finals of the French Open (Roland Garros) that same year, and in 1991 became the youngest-ever women's semifinalist at the Wimbledon championships. She went on to win the gold medal in tennis singles at the 1992 Summer Olympics, defeating Steffi Graf.
After some disappointing losses in 1993, Capriati took a break from the tour to concentrate on her high school studies, and later ran into personal and legal troubles. Nabbed for shoplifting in December 1993, Capriati was also arrested for marijuana possession in May 1994. She returned to the tennis tour in November of that year, but played in only one match, which she lost, and again went on sabbatical, this time for fifteen months.
Returning to the tour in 1996, Capriati again had several false starts, finally winning the singles title in Luxembourg on September 25, 2000. In 2001 she began an earnest comeback, winning both the Australian Open and the French Open, and she successfully defended her Australian Open title the following year.
Capriati lost in her first match defending the Australian Open title in 2003. However, she won the singles title in New Haven, Connecticut on August 18 of that year.
The 5' 8½" Capriati plays right-handed, with a two-handed backhand. As of 2003 she has 14 career singles wins, and also one in doubles with Monica Seles in the 1991 Italian Open. She has garnered almost $8 million in career prize money, and was ranked #1 in the world for brief periods in 2001 and 2002.