Former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna dies at 49

Rosalie Stanley
November 21, 2017

Jana Novotna, who won the women's singles title at Wimbledon in 1998 and 16 other Grand Slam titles in doubles and mixed doubles during her career, died Sunday in her native Czech Republic after a long battle with cancer, the Women's Tennis Association announced in a statement.

Novotna passed away "after a long battle with cancer" and was surrounded by her family when she died peacefully.

Ms. Novotna famously cried on the Duchess of Kent's shoulder in 1993 after losing the women's singles final at Wimbledon.

The Duchess of Kent comforts Jana Novotna as she presents her with the runner up trophy on centre court at Wimbledon.

Two-time Wimbledon champion and compatriot Petra Kvitova said Novotna had inspired her and supported her during her career. It was Novotna's third attempt to conquer Wimbledon, as she had previously been beaten by Germany's Steffi Graf in the 1993 final, and by Martina Hingis of Switzerland in the tournament decider in 1997.

Novotna said the Duchess had told her "I believe you will do it" and, indeed, she did, winning Wimbledon, aged 29 and nine months, to become the oldest first-time Grand Slam singles victor in the Open era.

Jana Novotna dead aged just 49 after ex-Wimbledon champion's lengthy battle with cancer
Jana Novotna Dead: Wimbledon Champion Dies at 49

"It was disgusting to watch, but what nerve to actually win it five years later, and I think all of us in the tennis world were joyful and glad that she did it". I can't believe she is gone this soon.

WTA chief executive officer Steve Simon said: "Jana was an inspiration both on and off court to anyone who had the opportunity to know her".

Her serve-and-volley game was a rarity among women, and helped make her a formidable doubles player. She will be always the champion for me. She will be always the champion for me. Our condolences and our thoughts are with Jana's family.

Novotna also represented her country with success, claiming silver medals at the 1988 and 1996 Olympics as well as a bronze in Atlanta.

Barabara Schett also played alongside Novotna in invitational events and she wrote: "What a wonderful person, lovely soul tennis player and role model we have lost today".

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